May 172024
 


Leonard Misonne Waterloo Place, London 1899

 

Why Trials Like Trump’s Must Be Televised (Alan M. Dershowitz)
Trump Lawyer “Dog Walks” Michael Cohen Through Lie After Lie (ZH)
Trump Believes a ‘Great Silent Majority’ Will Vote for Him in November (ET)
Joe Biden Invokes Executive Privilege Over Special Counsel Recordings (ZH)
Freezing the Arms Shipment to Israel Not an Impeachable Offense (Turley)
Martin Armstrong: ‘West Governments Need War’ (SF)
Zelensky Blames ‘Whole World’ For Ukraine’s Failures In Kharkov (RT)
Slovakia Faces ‘Civil War’ – Interior Minister (RT)
Hunter Biden Loses Bid to Halt Tax Evasion Court Proceedings (ET)
“We’ve Had A Hell Of A Run”: Druckenmiller Sells 441,000 Shares Of Nvidia (ZH)
Biden Should Have Pardoned Trump – Romney (RT)
‘Big Blunder’ To Let China And Russia Get Close – US Strategist (RT)

 

 

Vivek debate

 

 

Ogles

 

 

Xi Putin
https://x.com/i/status/1791264681694556387

 

 

Videos are being transferred from twitter.com to X.com. It is not going seamless. Should improve as the day goes by.

 

 

Moose
https://x.com/i/status/1790990564646609003

tiktokers
https://x.com/i/status/1791220831252595119

 

 

 

 

Spectacle?!

Why Trials Like Trump’s Must Be Televised (Alan M. Dershowitz)

If you were flipping between CNN and Fox News following the cross-examination of Stormy Daniels in the New York criminal case against former President Donald Trump, you would have had the impression that the CNN commentator, who professed to be reporting what happened in the courtroom, described a completely different event from what the Fox News reporter, who was also in the courtroom, described. It was as if they had seen two different witnesses and two different lawyers. The CNN commentator reported that Daniels had done a great job holding up against the incompetent cross-examination of Trump’s lawyer. The Fox News commentator reported that the extraordinarily effective Trump lawyer had totally destroyed Daniels’ credibility. Who were you to believe? The CNN commentator was an experienced lawyer who was purporting to describe accurately what had happened without bias or subjectivity.

The Fox News commentator was a former judge and prosecutor with vast experience, who also claimed to be describing the cross-examination without bias. Neither of the commentators even pretended to paint a gray picture. One was starkly black, the other unambiguously white. No nuance in either account. If the trial had been televised, the dominant color would have been gray. Perry Mason cross-examinations rarely occur in real life, and witnesses like Daniels rarely emerge unscathed from cross-examinations even by mediocre lawyers. We, the American public, however, have been denied the right to judge for ourselves how the case against the once and possibly future president is going. We cannot judge the credibility of witnesses, the fairness of the judge or the effectiveness of the lawyers. We must depend on the subjective and generally biased accounts of often partisan “reporters.”

Polls following the OJ Simpson case suggested that those who personally watched the trial on TV were less surprised by the not guilty verdict than those who only read about it in the media, which generally described it as an open and shut case and predicted a guilty verdict. They downplayed or omitted the gaps in the prosecution case and the mistakes made by prosecutors that may have led jurors to find reasonable doubt. The same may be true of the Trump case, except that everyone is seeing the case through the prism of the reporters, rather than with their own eyes. Those who get their “news” from anti-Trump sources will be surprised and outraged if there is an acquittal or hung jury in this “strong” case. Those who get their “news” from pro-Trump sources will be surprised and outraged by a conviction in this “weak” case.

The result of making us rely on partisan secondary sources rather than our own direct observations is inevitable distrust in the justice system. If “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” lack of visibility is a major source of distrust. Every important trial involving public figures should be televised. Now the trial of Senator Robert Menendez is starting. It, too, should be publicized so that the public can see how the judiciary deals with an important case involving a member of the legislative branch. Even the Supreme Court now permits live audio broadcasts of important appellate cases. Hopefully, they will soon allow telecasting since there is little difference between listening and seeing the justices and the lawyers. The framers of the Constitution intended all judicial proceedings to be public – no secret trials. At the time of the framing, public meant open to print journalists. Today, public means audio and video publication.

The New York trial of Trump is a national scandal. There is no real crime. The judge has allowed testimony that is highly prejudicial and irrelevant. He has made numerous unfair rulings, of which the prosecution has taken advantage. The public has the right to see this abuse with their own eyes, so that we all can judge for ourselves and not allow possibly biased reporters to judge for us. Now the government’s star witness is testifying. Michael Cohen’s credibility promises to be a key factor in the jury’s deliberation. Every citizen should have a right to make his or her own assessment of his credibility or lack thereof. There is no good argument for allowing CNN to tell us whether he is believable, when we might come to a different conclusion based on direct observation with our own eyes.

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Star witness, blindsided by prank calls from a 14-year old.

Trump Lawyer “Dog Walks” Michael Cohen Through Lie After Lie (ZH)

President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen had his “knees chopped out” by Donald Trump’s defense attorneys in cross-examination during Trump’s ‘hush money’ trial. Cohen was grilled by Trump attorney Todd Blanche about a pivotal phone call that connected Trump to allegations that he approved reimbursements to pay porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. In one exchange, Blanche accused Cohen of lying about speaking with Trump on the phone in October 2016 to reassure his boss that he was handling the payment to Daniels. Blanche then confronted Cohen with text messages that contradicted the lie – revealing that Cohen in fact spoke with Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller. Trump attorney Todd Blanche grilled him about a pivotal phone call that had connected President Trump to the allegations at the center of the case.

He accused Mr. Cohen of calling the former president’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to complain about harassing phone calls—not to disclose an update on a plan to purchase the silence of Ms. Clifford. Mr. Cohen said that the prank calls were a part of the conversation with Mr. Schiller. “Now your memory is that you were testifying truthfully on Tuesday, and you had enough time to update Mr. Schiller about all the problems you were having with these harassing calls?” Mr. Blanche asked him. “I always run everything by the boss immediately,” Mr. Cohen said. “It could’ve just been me saying, ‘everything’s been taken care of, it’s been resolved.’” “That was a lie. You did not talk to President Trump that night,” Mr. Blanche said. “You can admit it.” “No sir, I can’t,” Mr. Cohen said. “Because I’m not sure that’s accurate.” “This jury doesn’t want to hear what you think happened,” Mr. Blanche said. -Epoch Times. Cohen appeared blindsided by the line of questioning, and wavered in his recollection of the phone call before blurting out “I believe I was telling the truth!”

Blanche then slapped Cohen around for telling Congress that he didn’t want to work in the Trump administration – only to be confronted with conversations in 2016 in which he expressed disappointment that he was overlooked for the role of Trump’s chief of staff. Cohen also lied about seeking a pardon from Trump, for which his attorneys later had to issue a statement to correct the record. After Cohen had his ass handed to him, CNN pundits were beside themselves. “It was incredible…lawyers want to build a box around the witness & slam it shut–that’s what Todd Blanche did to Cohen…it was an extraordinary cross…Cohen was cornered in…a lie,” said host Anderson Cooper. The network’s top legal analyst said “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a star witness get his knees chopped out quite as clearly and dramatically as what just happened with Michael Cohen.”

https://x.com/i/status/1791174382288765323

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“It’s got to come down much more. That’s a lot of inflation, their number they announced.”

Trump Believes a ‘Great Silent Majority’ Will Vote for Him in November (ET)

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he believes he has a “great silent majority” who will vote for him during the 2024 election. While speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt, the former president claimed that he may have the “biggest ever” silent majority, using a term that was popularized by former President Richard Nixon in 1969. He then made reference to the relatively large crowd turnout during last weekend’s rally in Wildwood, New Jersey. “I have a great silent majority … the term was very, very powerfully associated with Nixon, and I didn’t want to be copying the term actually, so it’s the great silent majority,” President Trump said, adding that he believes that 107,000 people attended the Wildwood rally. The Epoch Times could not immediately authenticate that figure. The former president in 2020 made similar claims about a silent majority turning out in droves for him during that year’s election.

But the term was famously used by President Nixon to refer to conservative voters who did not participate in the current political discourse at the time, later resurfacing in the campaigns of former President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. In his interview with Mr. Hewitt, the former president said that he believes inflation may cause some voters to cast ballots in favor of him, coming after the Labor Department released figures Wednesday showing that the consumer price index slightly eased in April. “It’s a lot of inflation when added to the inflation that we’ve suffered that’s been so bad,” President Trump said, likely referring to years of rising prices since the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s got to come down much more. That’s a lot of inflation, their number they announced.” The former president’s remarks on Wednesday come as a recent poll from Siena College shows that President Joe Biden is trialing the former president in five of six battleground states.

President Trump, notably, is ahead by 6 percentage points in Arizona, 11 points in Georgia, and 13 points in Nevada, the survey revealed. He’s ahead about 3 points in Pennsylvania and 1 point in Wisconsin, while is down by 1 point to President Biden in Michigan. In the 2020 election, races were called for President Biden in all of those states mentioned in the Siena College survey. In a Wall Street Journal poll conducted in April, President Trump garnered a lead of between 2 and 8 percentage points among voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina on a ballot that included third-party and independent candidates. The results were similar in a one-on-one matchup with President Biden, it said.

The former president also was viewed as having better physical and mental fitness for the job by 48 percent of respondents, compared to 28 percent for President Biden, the poll showed. Meanwhile, a recent Reuters-Ipsos poll showed that more Americans believe President Trump would handle the economy better than President Biden. Some 41 percent of respondents in the three-day poll said the former president has the better approach, compared to 34 percent for the current president.

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“Because of the President’s longstanding commitment to protecting the integrity, effectiveness, and independence of the Department of Justice and its law enforcement investigations….

…he won’t let us see any of it…”

Joe Biden Invokes Executive Privilege Over Special Counsel Recordings (ZH)

After the DOJ stonewalled over surrendering an audio recording of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Joe Biden over his handling of classified documents, the White House has invoked executive privilege to block House Republicans from obtaining it. On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland requested that Biden assert executive privilege over the recordings following a subpoena from the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. “Because of the President’s longstanding commitment to protecting the integrity, effectiveness, and independence of the Department of Justice and its law enforcement investigations, he has decided to assert executive privilege over the recordings,” said White House counsel Ed Siskel in a letter obtained by The Hill. The Feb. 27 subpoena requested copies of notes, audio files, video and transcripts related to Hur’s probe, and had a deadline of March 7.

“Americans expect equal justice under the law and DOJ is allowing the Bidens to operate above it,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) said in an April statement. “Special Counsel Hur’s report outlined that classified documents Joe Biden stashed for years relate to countries where his family cashed in on the Biden brand.” In response to a request for audio of what author Mark Zwonitzer recorded while interviewing Biden, whose two memoirs he wrote, Assistant AG Carlos Felipe Uriarte said there is no need for the department to hand it over because the committees also have transcripts of the interviews. “To go further by producing the audio files would compound the likelihood that future prosecutors will be unable to secure this level of cooperation,” Uriarte wrote.

“They might have a harder time obtaining consent to an interview at all. It is clearly not in the public interest to render such cooperation with prosecutors and investigators less likely in the future.” Uriarte then reiterated that the DOJ has provided ample evidence to the committees. Hur’s 345-page report concluded that no charges should be brought against Biden due to cognitive decline. “We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” Hur wrote. Hur cited 2017 conversations between Biden and Zwontizer, which Hur described as “painfully slow, with Mr. Biden struggling to remember events and straining at times to read and relay his own notebook entries.”

Hur

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“President Trump will not be our last president and what we leave in the wake of this scandal will shape our democracy for generations to come..”

Freezing the Arms Shipment to Israel Not an Impeachable Offense (Turley)

Political analysts on the left and the right have acknowledged that Biden’s hardened stance toward Israel is due to his faltering poll numbers and the threat that he could lose Michigan and Minnesota in the upcoming election. A loss in Michigan, where the state’s large Muslim population has rejected Biden’s past support for Israel, would likely doom his chances for reelection. Even assuming that Biden’s recent changes were motivated by politics in Michigan (which I believe is a fair assessment), it would not be a high crime and misdemeanor. Presidents routinely act out of political interests. Indeed, a democracy involves using one’s voting power to influence politicians like Biden to change policy. The more than 100,000 “uncommitted” votes in Michigan’s Democratic primary clearly spooked the Biden White House.

To impeach presidents for such discretionary conduct would make impeachment a type of “vote of no confidence” device used in countries like the United Kingdom. That is not the purpose of impeachment, which was meant to be a rarely-used measure to address the most egregious forms of presidential misconduct. The recent resolution falls into a type of “just desserts” rationale for impeachment. I testified in the first Trump impeachment and opposed it on constitutional grounds. I warned Democrats that they would rue the day that they lowered the standard and short-circuited the process for impeachment. At the time, I told the House Judiciary Committee: “President Trump will not be our last president and what we leave in the wake of this scandal will shape our democracy for generations to come.

I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president. That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided.” After ignoring that warning, Democrats went a step further in the second impeachment in 2021 and used what I called a “snap impeachment” in an attempt to punish Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.It would be an easy thing to say “well, turnabout is fair play, so a pox upon their house.”

The problem is that this is the people’s house and we all are harmed by the destruction of the impeachment process. Democrats were wrong in 2019 and 2021 to impeach Trump, but yielding to the same political motives now is no virtue. Ironically, the new impeachment resolution does precisely what Biden is accused of doing: using constitutionally bestowed powers for raw political purposes. The White House has insisted that this latest effort is “ridiculous.” Except that isn’t ridiculous given Democrats’ past actions. But it is equally wrong.

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“I named my computer model after Socrates because the oracle of Delphi had said that he was the smartest man in Greece.”

Martin Armstrong: ‘West Governments Need War’ (SF)

Your predictive model is based on precise calculations. The cycles of history and the economy thus seem to chase each other along the time span of history. If I’m not mistaken, you compared the current context to the crisis and dissolution of the Roman Empire. Is it correct? History repeats because human nature never changes. The Roman Empire is but one example from history of its success and failures. It lasted longer than anyone because it did not impose cultural regulations. The Christians called them pagans because they had so many Gods. That was the product of their policy of freedom of religion. Athens had Athena, Northern Europe had Thor, so they did not try to change the culture of the lands they conquered. They created a common market where someone in Britain could sell products to someone in Rome. So the freedom of religion, low taxation, freedom of movement, and a common market combined to create the Pax Romana.

Is it still possible to avoid a large-scale world conflict? It is unlikely that we can avoid world war. Governments need war because their debts are no longer sustainable. They will use the war as the excuse for defaults – as was the case for WWII. They will create Bretton Woods II with the IMF digital currency as the reserve. [..] Is it correct to claim that your analysis succeed in covering the intersection of geopolitics, Global Markets and Economic Confidence? Can you explain to us in a simple way how your Socrates predictive model works? By the way, why did you name it just like the Greek philosopher? I named my computer model after Socrates because the oracle of Delphi had said that he was the smartest man in Greece. He tried to prove the oracle wrong and the process proved it to be correct. He was put on trial and sentenced to death because he knew too much. My computer has taught me a lot in geopolitics, we had a major bank in Lebanon in the 1980’s and they asked if I could create a model on the Lebanese pound.

I put the data in the computer and it came out and said their country would fall apart in 8 days. I thought something was wrong with the data. When I told the client, they asked me what currency would be best, and I said the Swiss Franc. Eight days later the civil war begn. Obviously they saw the movement of money themselves and came to me for the timing. The same thing happened with a client in Saudi Arabia who was a big shipper. He called me asking me what gold would do tomorrow because Iran was going to begin attacking shipping in the gulf. So once again, there was advanced information about war. By 1998, I understood how the computer was forcasting such events. I warned in June at our London conference that Russia was about to collapse. The London financial Times had snuck into the back of the room and reported that forecast on the front of their newspaper on June 27th 1998. Russia collapsed about 6 weeks later.

Are unpredictable events, such as the terrorist attack in Moscow, also considered among the parameters of your predictive model? A “black swan” type event can change the course of history and geopolitical relations?” Yes, we saw the capital flows shift a day in advance, up to a week in advance in the case of the attack in israel. The defense stocks began to rise even with 9/11 the government used our model to look at who bought puts on airlines in the days before. Someone always knows when they’re going to do these types of events. And they move their money either to profit or to avoid a loss. The computer is tracking everything. It cannot tell me which person has done it. Just that the move is about to take place.

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The whole world except for himself.

Zelensky Blames ‘Whole World’ For Ukraine’s Failures In Kharkov (RT)

The whole world is to blame for Ukraine’s failure to stop Russia’s recent advances in Kharkov Region and must now help Kiev to change the situation, President Vladimir Zelensky told ABC News in an interview on Thursday. It comes after Russian forces managed to capture several settlements near Ukraine’s second-largest city over the past week. Top military officials in Kiev have admitted that the situation is now “extremely difficult,” and that Ukrainian troops are struggling to hold ground due to being outgunned and outnumbered. Asked if he believes Ukraine’s failures on the battlefield to be the fault of the US, Zelensky told ABC reporters that “it’s the world’s fault,” and accused the international community of giving “the opportunity for Putin to occupy.” The Ukrainian leader said the country “cannot afford to lose Kharkov,” and that “the world can help” Kiev to hold on to the vital city in the country’s northeast.

“All we need are two Patriot systems,” Zelensky said, suggesting that “Russia will not be able to occupy Kharkov if we have those.”ng to source billion-dollar Patriot air defense systems for Ukraine. Last month, Zelensky insisted that Ukraine needs 25 such batteries but later revised that number to “at least seven.” The president also complained that funding that has been approved by the US for Kiev is not actually reaching the country and is instead being spent “in American factories, creating American jobs.” Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Kiev this week, assured the Ukrainian leadership that Washington was “actively and urgently” trying.

Each Patriot battery comprises a power plant, radar and control stations, truck-mounted missile launchers, and support vehicles, and costs around $1 billion. Ukraine is currently believed to possess at least three Patriots, one of which is stationed near the capital. Last year, one of these batteries was reportedly damaged or destroyed in a Russian hypersonic missile strike. Moscow, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that no amount of Western weapon systems can change the inevitable outcome of the conflict, and has warned that continuing to arm Ukraine will only prolong the bloodshed and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.

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Alright for now.

Slovakia Faces ‘Civil War’ – Interior Minister (RT)

Slovakia appears to be on the brink of a civil war, its interior minister has warned, following the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Robert Fico on Wednesday. The head of the Slovak government was shot in the eastern town of Handlova, where he had chaired a working meeting. The gunman, identified by the media as an opposition party supporter in his early 70s, acted on political motives, according to Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak. Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok warned that the country was “on the edge of a civil war” over political tensions. Social media is full of “hateful comments” in the wake of the attack, he added. Meanwhile, according to Kalinak, who spoke to journalists outside the hospital in the city of Banska Bystrica, where Fico was rushed for emergency surgery, “the inability to accept the will of some part of the public, which some group does not like, is the result that they have worked towards today.”

Fico, a nationalist and euro-skeptic, assumed office last year, after his Smer-SD party won the parliamentary election in September. He promised to put Slovakia’s interests first, including in the highly-contentious issue of the Ukraine conflict. His refusal to provide more arms to Kiev stood in sharp contrast to the previous government. His victory was a defeat for Progressive Slovakia (PS), which suffered a second electoral upset in April. The presidential candidate endorsed by the pro-EU party was defeated by Peter Pellegrini. PS co-founder Zuzana Caputova is set to complete her term as president next month. Fico has lashed out at comments coming from supporters of the opposition, particularly those upset by the waning power of the Progressives. He has also accused some media outlets of fanning the flames.

Some Slovaks are denouncing supporters of political forces they do not like as “misguided blind folk” that they are ashamed to have as their neighbors, he lamented in a video statement last month. Politicians face obscenities in the streets, he added. ”I expect this frustration to turn so intense that it could lead to the murder of one of the leading government officials,” Fico warned. Many Slovak politicians and foreign leaders have condemned the attempt on Fico’s life. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Slovak leader was a “courageous and strong-spirited man,” and that those qualities would hopefully help him overcome the crisis. Fico’s deputy, Tomas Taraba, said his surgery was a success and that the prime minister is expected to recover.

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It’s alive!

Hunter Biden Loses Bid to Halt Tax Evasion Court Proceedings (ET)

Hunter Biden lost his bid to halt his tax evasion district court proceedings in California on Wednesday after the Ninth Circuit declined to hear his appeal. District Judge Mark Scarsi denied Mr. Biden’s motion for a stay of proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California pending the outcome of his appeal. The stay had been requested on May 10 after Mr. Biden filed his interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit panel ruled in favor of the special counsel and dismissed Mr. Biden’s appeal. This rendered moot a motion filed by Mr. Biden’s lawyers on Tuesday asking the judge for an expedited hearing on his motion to halt proceedings or, alternatively, for the judge to consider his written motion without hearing oral arguments.

“Because the panel’s order moots Mr. Biden’s motion, the Court grants the application to rule on shortened time and denies the motion,” Judge Scarsi wrote in his order on Wednesday Judge Scarsi’s order stated that his prior orders and the trial schedule would remain in place, and that the court would hear any further requests to modify the pre-trial schedule at a conference on May 29. Mr. Biden, who had argued that the district court’s jurisdiction had been divested once he filed his interlocutory appeal, filed his motion for a stay after the judge wrote in a May 9 order that failing to do so would be “at his own peril.”

Special Counsel David Weiss, who is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government, opposed Mr. Biden’s bid to halt proceedings while waiting to hear the outcome from the Ninth Circuit. He argued that any “problems” with scheduling conflicts in both Mr. Biden’s California tax evasion case and his Delaware gun charges case “are entirely of his own making. In his brief asking for an expedited hearing filed on Tuesday, Mr. Biden’s lawyers told Judge Scarsi that he wasn’t aware that failing to file a motion to stay pending appeal would be “at his own peril,” and that he promptly filed his motion to stay the next day after the judge’s order came down.

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“..the AI boom is likely a “mega-trend like we’ve never seen,” with the potential to be bigger than the internet. ”

“We’ve Had A Hell Of A Run”: Druckenmiller Sells 441,000 Shares Of Nvidia (ZH)

Billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller, head of the Duquesne Family Office, sees the artificial intelligence bubble as overextended. He has slashed some of his holdings in “Magnificent Seven” technology stocks, including Nvidia. He’s not alone. Other notable fund managers and company insiders are jumping ship and unloading their shares. A recent 13F filing reveals that Druckenmiller’s family office sold over 441,000 shares of Nvidia Corp. in the first quarter, reducing its stake to only 176,000 shares, or worth just about $158 million. Since 13F filings are backward-looking, the firm may have further divested or adjusted those holdings since the first quarter. We suspect Druckenmiller has not added to his Nvidia holdings.

Early last week, the billionaire investor appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” explaining that his exposure to Nvidia was reduced after it went from $150 per share to $900 in just over a year. “I’m not Warren Buffett,” Druckenmiller emphasized, noting, “I don’t own things for 10 or 20 years. I wish I was Warren Buffett.” Druckenmiller said that when Microsoft-backed ChatGPT soared in popularity, he doubled down on his Nvidia position because it was an obvious no-brainer. “Even an old guy like me could figure out what that meant,” he said, adding the AI boom is likely a “mega-trend like we’ve never seen,” with the potential to be bigger than the internet.

Druckenmiller concluded: “I just need a break. We’ve had a hell of a run. A lot of what we recognized has become recognized by the marketplace now.” Besides Druckenmiller, 13F filings showed David Tepper slashed his holdings in Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta Platforms. David Bonderman’s Wildcat Capital Management sold Meta stock, bringing his position to $23.7 million. Michael Platt’s BlueCrest Capital Management dumped Nvidia and Amazon.

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Would Trump have accepted?

Biden Should Have Pardoned Trump – Romney (RT)

US Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has suggested that President Joe Biden blundered politically by allowing his administration to prosecute Donald Trump, his hated Republican rival. “Had I been President Biden, when the Justice Department brought on indictments, I would have immediately pardoned him,” Romney said in an MSNBC interview aired on Wednesday. “I’d have pardoned President Trump. Why? Well, because it makes me, President Biden, the big guy and the person I pardoned a little guy.” Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate who has clashed repeatedly with Trump, said Biden made an “enormous error” by allowing prosecutors to indict the ex-president last year for mishandling classified documents and trying to block the transfer of power after losing the 2020 election. The two federal cases are among four criminal indictments against Trump, who has accused Biden and his allies of using sham prosecutions to interfere in the 2024 presidential race.

“He should have fought like crazy to keep this prosecution from going forward,” Romney said. “It was a win-win for Donald Trump. Pressed on the principle of leaving prosecutorial decisions to the Justice Department, the senator said Biden should have led like former President Lyndon B. Johnson. “I’ve been around for a while. If LBJ had been president, and he didn’t want something like this to happen, he’d have been all over that prosecutor saying, ‘You better not bring that forward or I’m gonna drive you out of office.’” Romney, who was defeated by Barack Obama in the 2012 election, has announced plans to retire from the Senate in January 2025, when his term ends. He has criticized both Trump and Biden for running for the presidency again this year, saying they should instead make way for a younger generation of leaders.

Upon announcing his decision last September to leave the Senate, Romney scolded his own party’s voters for favoring Trump. “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is in the shadow of Donald Trump,” he said. “He is the leader of the greatest portion of the Republican Party. It’s a populist, demagogue portion of the party. Look, I represent a small wing of the party. I call it the wise wing of the Republican Party.” Romney, 77, is the son of a former Michigan Governor George Romney and made upward of $200 million during his career in the private-equity business. He was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002. He has been a leading proponent of prolonging the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying that using Kiev’s forces to weaken the Russian military “is about the best national defense spending I think we’ve ever done.”

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A new world.

‘Big Blunder’ To Let China And Russia Get Close – US Strategist (RT)

US President Joe Biden’s cabinet has made a major policy mistake by driving Russia and China into a strategic partnership, Heritage Foundation fellow Michael Pillsbury said on Thursday. Pillsbury spoke to Fox and Friends as Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on his first foreign trip since inauguration. “To draw, to push together two nuclear powers, Russia and China, it’s really a blunder of the highest order,” he told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade. According to Pillsbury, China spent much of the past 75 years in conflict with the Soviet Union, “so to see them come together like this to me is just shocking.” It’s one of the biggest blunders we’ll see in my lifetime.”

Pillsbury has helped Washington formulate its China policy since the 1970s. He held a variety of posts at the Pentagon and as a staff member for the US Senate, before settling at China-centric desks at the Hudson Institute and later at Heritage. It has long been a policy objective of Washington to keep China and Russia apart, starting with President Richard Nixon’s detente with Beijing in the 1970s. This policy was in effect as late as 2020, with President Donald Trump trying to use tariffs to pressure China into working with the US, noted Pillsbury. “This would never happen under Trump,” he said. “This was one of Trump’s goals never to allow this to happen.” When Kilmeade suggested that China “needs” the US and EU markets, so the West has leverage over Beijing, Pillsbury pointed out that this “simply isn’t happening under Biden.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also commented on the US attempts to split China away from Russia. In an interview on Thursday, he said that China was “strong enough” to resist the “brazen” attempts at pressure. China and Russia both “defend the principles of fairness and the democratic world order based on the multipolar realities and international law,” Putin said on Thursday, adding that relations between the two countries “are not aimed against anyone.” Putin described the Russo-Chinese cooperation as “one of the main stabilizing factors on the international stage.” Xi agreed, arguing that ties between Beijing and Moscow are a “model of relations between large powers and neighboring states, characterized by mutual respect, trust, friendship and mutual benefit.”

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Horse sculpt
https://twitter.com/i/status/1791077037496799692

 

 

Geert

 

 

Flying cow

 

 

 

 

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Dec 152020
 


William Merritt Chase Back Of A Nude 1888

 

Biden Lashes Out At Trump In Post-Electoral College Speech (ZH)
Republican Electors In Five Disputed States Cast Votes For Trump (JTN)
Offstage Noises (Jim Kunstler)
Barr Steps Down As AG, Decries ‘Frenzied And Baseless’ Russia Allegations (JTN)
The Case For Pardoning Edward Snowden By President Trump (Greenwald)
Left and Right Unite in Calls for Snowden Pardon (MPN)
Trump’s Last Chance to Snub the Deep State (SCF)
Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations (Taibbi)
Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Families Payments (DP)
Fauci: Masks, Social Distancing Likely Needed Until ‘Early Next Winter’ (JTN)
The Covid-19 Data is a ‘Travesty’ (OffG)
Venezuela’s Guaido-Led Opposition Holds Alternative Vote, Burns Ballots (RT)
Sunday Times Claims Navalny Was Poisoned Twice (Robinson)

 

 

Hats off to Jimmy Dore.

 

 

Me, I fear for the future of the country.

Biden Lashes Out At Trump In Post-Electoral College Speech (ZH)

Joe Biden lashed out at President Trump Monday night, saying in a 14-minute speech following his win in the electoral college that Trump’s ongoing challenges to the 2020 election are “an unprecedented assault on our democracy,” and that claims of widespread fraud are “baseless” – despite the fact that the Supreme Court elected not to review the merits of various cases. “Every single avenue was made available for President Trump to contest the results. He took full advantage of each and every one of those avenues.


“President Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take,” Biden added – also slamming the 17 GOP Attorneys General and 126 GOP Congressmembers who challenged the results of the election as well. Biden implied Trump has both abused – and won’t let go of power, saying “In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant it to them,” adding “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame.”

Read more …

“It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute, and clearly it is..”

Republican Electors In Five Disputed States Cast Votes For Trump (JTN)

Republican electors in four states said Monday that they would cast their procedural votes for President Trump from the Nov. 3 elections, and Michigan sent two separate slates of electors to Capitol Hill, 16 electors for Trump and 16 electors for Democrat Joe Biden. “It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute, and clearly it is,” said Meshawn Maddock, Republican at-large national elector. Michigan state Rep. Daire Rendon said: “What it comes down to is this: have the secretary of state, director of elections, and election officials proved to you that the election had accuracy and integrity? They have not. And because of this, the election is in dispute.”

Under the Constitution, state legislatures have plenary power over their respective elections. Because there is an ongoing dispute over the Michigan 2020 general election, members of the Michigan legislature have called on Washington, D.C., to not count Michigan electors until further action from the Michigan legislature, according to a press release about the Michigan effort. Congress will count electoral votes Jan. 6. The Trump campaign embraced the alternate slate of electors’ actions, saying it preserved legal options before the Jan. 6 deadline. “We applaud the Republican electors in those states for showing up and casting the votes,” the campaign’s senior legal counsel Jenna Ellis told Just the News.

The Republican electors in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona all said they voted for Trump. It comes as their states formally appointed Democratic electors who voted for Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, according to the Epoch Times. The Pennsylvania GOP said in a news release that electors met at the state capital to “cast a conditional vote” for Trump and Pence “at the request of the Trump campaign.” Democratic electors voted in the Pennsylvania Electoral College for Biden and Harris.

Read more …

“If Dominion vote tabulation machines all over America are not allowed to be hooked up to the Internet, how can they be a network? And why would they need a server?”

Offstage Noises (Jim Kunstler)

President Trump’s 2018 Executive Order 13848 requires the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), John Ratcliffe, to report forty-five days after the election on foreign election interference. That’s this Friday. What might Mr. Ratcliffe know? Well, supposedly everything. Except both the CIA and the FBI must be considered undependable now, with RussiaGate prankster Gina Haspel in charge of the CIA, and Christopher Wray slow-walking every requested declassified FBI document for years. So, Mr. Ratcliffe must be receiving more dependable intelligence from others, most likely Defense Intelligence. Many readers may have heard about a supposed raid on the CIA cyber-warfare station in Frankfurt, Germany, and the seizure there of the Dominion computer servers by US Army special ops personnel.

Forty-five days was probably enough time for Defense Intelligence to run forensic analysis on those servers, if, in fact, they existed and the raid actually happened. Standing by on that. We just don’t know. But if so, then Mr. Ratcliffe must have some results by now. What nobody has asked is: in the first place, what on earth would the Dominion servers be doing in Frankfurt, outside the USA, in possession of the CIA? Is the CIA monitoring the vote tabulation… or assisting in it? This raises another question no one has addressed: Servers serve computer networks, which operate via the Internet. If Dominion vote tabulation machines all over America are not allowed to be hooked up to the Internet, how can they be a network? And why would they need a server? If I’m missing something there, please discuss in the comments section.

Which raises another question: Is there not sufficient evidence to see that the use of computers has completely screwed up our election process? Is this not a classic Joseph Tainter style quandary of overinvestments in complexity producing diminishing returns — which, when enough of them pile up, gets you to the collapse of civilizations? Are we going to allow further screw-ups by letting the State of Georgia conduct their January 5 senate run-off election on the same Dominion machines that they used on November 3? Apparently, that’s exactly what Georgia intends to do.

Read more …

Did Bill Barr just make room for Trump to pardon Assange and Snowden?

Barr Steps Down As AG, Decries ‘Frenzied And Baseless’ Russia Allegations (JTN)

William Barr has decided to step down as attorney general before Christmas, ending a tumultuous tenure that saw his department clear President Trump of Russia collusion and crack down on violent gangs, Chinese spies and religious liberty violations. Trump announced the departure Monday evening on Twitter shortly after meeting with Barr, ending a tense week in which the president and his allies criticized the attorney general for both failing to reveal the existence of a Hunter Biden probe before the election and taking little public action to punish those who perpetrated the false Russian collusion narrative, “Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!” Trump tweeted. “As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family.”

“Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all!” the president added. In his letter, Barr revealed his last day will be Dec. 23 and that the purpose of his meeting with the president Monday was to brief the president about his department’s efforts to investigate voter fraud. Barr also went out of his way in the letter to decry the “frenzied and baseless” narrative of Russia collusion that hampered the first two-plus years of the Trump presidency.

“Your record is all the more historic because you accomplished it in the face of relentless, implacable resistance. Your 2016 victory speech in which you reached out to your opponents and called for working together for the benefit of the American people was immediately met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic no matter how abusive and deceitful was out of bounds,” Barr wrote. “The nadir of this campaign was the effort to cripple, if not oust your administration, with frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia,” he added.

Read more …

Calls for pardons are getting loud.

The Case For Pardoning Edward Snowden By President Trump (Greenwald)

A U.S. appellate court in September unanimously ruled that the NSA’s program of mass domestic surveillance was illegal, as well as likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The court, and the broader public, knew about this illegal mass surveillance program created by the NSA only because Edward Snowden, while working inside that agency, discovered its existence and concluded in 2012 that the American public has the right know about what was being secretly done to them and their privacy by their own government. Upon making the decision to blow the whistle on this security state illegality, Snowden delivered the documents relating to that program and other then-unknown systems of mass online surveillance not by dumping them indiscriminately on the internet or selling them or passing them to foreign governments, but by providing them to journalists (including myself) with The Guardian, The Washington Post and other news outlets.

The documents Snowden provided were accompanied by requests to report them responsibly. He thus relinquished the power entirely to make decisions about which documents would and would not be published, leaving those decisions exclusively to news outlets. That meant that Snowden himself never made a single document publicly available; every document that was reported was the result of decisions by newsrooms around the world that their publication would be in the public interest and would not endanger innocent people. That method of whistleblowing chosen by Snowden — patterned after the one Daniel Ellsberg used in 1971 to make the public aware of years of lying to the American public by the U.S. Government about the Vietnam War, when he gave the top-secret Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and asked them to report it in the public interest — enabled journalists to inform the American citizenry about illegal and unconstitutional spying by the U.S. Government in the most responsible manner possible.

Indeed, the very first program we reported — on June 6, 2013 — was the mass domestic spying program which the appellate court just ruled was illegal and likely a violation of the constitutional rights of all Americans. That first article we published revealed a top secret court order under which “the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers,” and required major telecommunications carriers “on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.”

The months of reporting that followed, all singularly enabled by Snowden’s courageous whistleblowing, triggered so much vital public debate about privacy and mass surveillance, and fostered so many legal and technological privacy reforms around the world, that the reporting earned virtually every award journalism has to give, including the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. For those who have not seen it, the 2014 documentary by Laura Poitras about the work Snowden did with journalists, Citizenfour, which received the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary, shows much of the Snowden story in real time and can be viewed on YouTube; the feature film “Snowden,” available on Netflix and other platforms, separately explores the trajectory which Snowden traversed from enlisted U.S. Army soldier, CIA contractor and NSA expert to one of this generation’s most consequential whistleblowers.

Read more …

“I support pardons for Snowden, Assange and especially Chelsea Manning. All exposed the criminality of the Bush-Obama/Biden period.”

Left and Right Unite in Calls for Snowden Pardon (MPN)

Amid mounting speculation that President Trump is about to announce a list of presidential pardons, calls for — and against — NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s name to be included are growing louder. In November, as is customary, Donald Trump pardoned a turkey for Thanksgiving. Now, in the lame duck session of his presidency, he appears to be making a customary list of people to pardon as well. Influential and well-connected publication Axios reported, in a scandalized tone, that he is planning to hand out pardons “like Christmas gifts” to “every person who ever talked to [him].” In August, the president was asked about Snowden specifically, responding by saying that, “I’m going to take a very good look at it. I’ve seen people that are very conservative and very liberal and they agree on the same issue…I’m going to take a look at that very strongly.”


Now, a host of figures are calling in unison for Trump to follow through on the proposal. “President Trump is listening to the many of us who are urging him to pardon Snowden. It’s the right thing to do,” Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz said yesterday. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul agreed, slamming former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in the process. “Clapper brazenly lied to Congress denying that the Deep State was spying on all Americans. Snowden simply revealed Clapper’s lies and exposed unconstitutional spying. He deserves a pardon from Donald Trump,” he wrote. Those calls were joined by a number of voices on the left, including former Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, who said, “I support pardons for Snowden, Assange and especially Chelsea Manning. All exposed the criminality of the Bush-Obama/Biden period.” The American Civil Liberties Union, who have previously described Snowden as a “patriot,” concurred, stating, “Edward Snowden blew the whistle on illegal government activity kept secret for years. Our democracy is better off because of him.”

Read more …

“Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.”

Trump’s Last Chance to Snub the Deep State (SCF)

The Trump administration calls the International Criminal Court a kangaroo court. He refuses to allow any U.S. soldier to be brought before the court for purported war crimes in Afghanistan. None of the court investigators or judges will receive visas to enter U.S. territory. Any property or bank accounts they have in the U.S. will be confiscated. If any court is a disingenuous kangaroo court it is the extradition trial against Julian Assange, in London. The first magistrate who sat in judgment of possible extradition to the U.S. for alleged violations of its Espionage Act, is a subject in Wikileaks’ revelations. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, and her husband, James Arbuthnot, who was a defense minister for procurement, have “earned” money from two companies exposed by Wikileaks.

During the August-September extradition hearings, Arbuthnot “stepped down” to be supervisor of the new magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser. During three weeks of hearings, Baraitser looked at her laptop to read decisions she had written before defense lawyers had made their arguments, or witnesses had testified. I am not the only one hoping that Donald Trump will do the right thing with Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden too. The last president, one Trump hates, first put Assange’s key whistleblower in prison, in isolation, under torture. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years. Obama leaving office with a gesture of “goodwill”, commuted Chelsea’s sentence once she served seven years. She was later jailed for another year for not snitching on Julian.

Tulsi Gabbard, the only Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 who wasn’t a war hawk, is asking Trump for goodwill. She tweeted tagging Trump, “Since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state,” and named Assange and Snowden for him to drop charges. The proposal for Trump to pardon Assange was also endorsed at this recent webinar which included speakers Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Law Professor Marjorie Cohn, Consortium News editor-in-chief Joe Lauria. If Trump did the honorable thing of halting the persecution of Julian Assange, it would be a blow for freedom and a middle finger to the Deep State including Obama and Clinton. Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.

Read more …

“They totally caved..”

Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations (Taibbi)

A senior Democratic congressional aide is irate tonight. “The Democrats,” the aide seethed, “have just done the worst negotiating in modern history.” At issue: a pair of new Covid-19 relief bills, just submitted by a bipartisan group of Senators. Republican Senator Susan Collins gushed that a“Christmas Miracle” allowed the two parties came together on the twin bills, which the press describes as totaling $748 billion and $160 billion, respectively. “Bipartisanship and compromise is [sic] alive and well in Washington,” clucked West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. It sure is. With the election over, the Democratic leadership in the space of a few weeks somehow negotiated against themselves, working with Republicans to push the total amount of a Covid-19 relief deal further and further downward, to the point where previous plans offered by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Steve Mnuchin now look like LBJ’s Great Society.

Democrats ultimately settled for less than a third of what they had set as a baseline for state and local aid, accepted a package without any $1,200 direct payments, and signed off on a plan that, after offsets, includes less than $350 billion in new money, well below a slew of pre-election proposals rejected by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as being too low. “They totally caved,” the aide says. Back in May, the Democrat-led House passed the HEROES Act, a $3.4 trillion relief package that was pitched as the bill Democrats really wanted. It contained $413 billion new dollars for $1,200 direct payments to citizens, as well as $437 billion in additional unemployment benefits, and a whopping $1.13 trillion for state and local governments.

Trump said the bill was “dead on arrival,” McConnell blasted it as a “$3 trillion left-wing wish list,” and the anti-spending group Taxpayers for Common Sense seethed that Democrats unrealistically put “everything they could think of” in the bill. Still, Democrats insisted this was the right amount, at the right time, a moral necessity. “The House has passed a major bill dealing with COVID,” Schumer said in May, blasting his Senate Republican colleagues for a “pause” in negotiations. “We have done nothing.”

Read more …

Meanwhile, what a mess.

Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Families Payments (DP)

Earlier this year, Republican senators slammed the idea of spending money to pay Americans not to work during the pandemic. Only a few months later, a group of GOP senators has signed onto stimulus legislation that would authorize the government to pay idle defense contractors to not work, even as those contractors’ rack up big profits during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the same bill excludes bipartisan provisions authorizing direct payments to millions of Americans struggling to survive. The stimulus legislation released by Republican and Democratic senators this afternoon includes an extension of a program to replace the wages of certain government contractors who miss work due to COVID-19.

The program, Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allows federal agencies to reimburse contractors who are unable to work in person due to the pandemic, and whose jobs do not allow telework, for up to 40 hours per week of lost wages. In effect, the program uses government money to reimburse defense contractors for giving paid leave to their employees. The provision was added to the last page of the 525-page bill after defense contractors sent a letter to congressional lawmakers lobbying for the language. The same bill does not authorize direct payments to millions of Americans — nor does it reimburse small businesses for providing paid leave benefits to their workers.

While the bill would fund $300-a-week in new federal unemployment benefits, that’s half as much as Congress distributed under the CARES Act — and millions of people will still see their unemployment benefits lapse on December 26, as it will likely take weeks to reprogram state unemployment systems. “This is about need and not greed,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., one of the Democratic sponsors of the bill who has called new direct payments to families “a bad idea.” Nearly 12 million U.S. renters will be behind $5,850 in rent by January, according to the Washington Post. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have been pushing lawmakers to include language in stimulus legislation giving $1,200 stimulus checks to millions of families. That was not included in the same stimulus that includes the subsidy program for defense contractors.

In July, Senate Republicans introduced a stimulus package which included $11 billion in appropriations to reimburse defense contractors for payments made under Section 3610, following lobbying from the defense industry. “Section 3610 provides authority for agencies to cover from existing funds certain contractor costs and keep key personnel and skilled workers in a ready state,” lobbying groups and executives from representing defense contractors and other government contractors wrote on December 11.

Read more …

How is it possible that in so many countries that failed so miserably in their pandemic fights, all the same faces hold on to all their same jobs?

Fauci: Masks, Social Distancing Likely Needed Until ‘Early Next Winter’ (JTN)

As the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine gets underway, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the American public should anticipate likely needing to wear masks and socially distancing through next winter. Fauci was asked Monday when he thinks society will be able to get back to pre-coronavirus normality. “I think we will know when we see the level of infection in the country at a dramatically lower level than it is right now that we can start gradually tiptoeing towards normality,” Fauci said during a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategy and International Studies. “I don’t believe we’re going to be able to throw the masks away and forget about physical separation and congregate settings for a while, probably likely until we get into the late fall and early next winter, but I think we can do it. The numbers will guide us.”


Fauci also said that having a vaccine distributed before the end of the year was “unimaginable” at the beginning of the pandemic. He referred to Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership implemented under the Trump administration, as a “success story,” given that a “group of vaccines” for COVID-19 have been produced. “I think Operation Warp Speed, putting hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, into facilitating the technical aspects of the trial, the clinical trial, the pre-purchasing of hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine is unprecedented,” he said. “So it’s really quite a success story, I must say.”

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We should have this down by now. We don’t.

The Covid-19 Data is a ‘Travesty’ (OffG)

If we turn our attention back to the Covid death data, just because someone has tested positive for Covid-19 and died sometime after (even if we put aside for a second that some tests are known to give false positives), that does not mean that Covid-19 caused that person to die. Yet, the main figure certain countries around the world are using to express Covid-19 deaths is simply recorded, or coded, as essentially any death involving a positive Covid-19 test within 28 days of death. Because correlation does not equal causation, simply recording Covid-19 deaths as any deaths involving a positive Covid-19 test within a given period of time is an extremely poor way to measure how many people have died. For instance, in the UK, the main figure being used for Covid-19 deaths is coded, as stated on the official Coronavirus website, as the…

number of deaths of people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. This completely ignores the problem of causality, and thus, produces a much larger death toll than there actually is. For instance, if someone has had an underlying heart condition for 10 years, and has a heart complication and dies, their death was most likely mainly caused by the heart condition that has plagued them for a decade. However, if that person had tested positive for Covid-19 for the first time within 28 days of them dying, that person could be included as a Covid-19 death in the UK, if all is required to be categorized as a Covid-19 death is simply a positive test result.

For those who understand that the way you code deaths dramatically changes the number of deaths you get, the UK authorities kindly illustrate this for us. There is a second number recorded by UK authorities which codes deaths as… people whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 as one of the causes. By coding deaths this way, there are thousands more Covid-19 deaths compared to when deaths are coded as… people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. Despite the UK authorities having two ways to code Covid-19 deaths however, none of them are particularly accurate in my opinion. This is because the positive test figure does not deal with the issue of causality, and the death certificate figure only mentions Covid as needing to be “one of the causes” of death, rather than “the primary cause,” in addition to the death certificate figure not explicitly demanding the need for a positive Covid-19 test result.

Read more …

Right on cue, Guaido and Navalny are back in the western news, two people who play no role whatsoever in their own home countries. What’s the mechanism behind this?

Venezuela’s Guaido-Led Opposition Holds Alternative Vote, Burns Ballots (RT)

Venezuelan opposition led by US-backed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido has held “popular consultations” to demonstrate rejection of the nation’s government after boycotting parliamentary vote but ended up burning ballots instead. The so-called “popular consultations” organized by the supporters of the self-styled “interim president” started online on Monday and concluded with an in-person participation on Saturday. The move was held after an official election held earlier this month handed control over the Venezuelan National Assembly to President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist PSUV party. As it was during the 2018 presidential elections that handed victory to Maduro himself, most of the opposition boycotted the official vote.

After losing what was considered its last institutional stronghold, Guaido’s supporters decided to demonstrate the scale of the alleged popular rejection of the Venezuelan government they continue to call illegitimate. Although the turnout for the official election was not particularly high, Guaido’s initiative has hardly faired any better since, according to the organizers’ own estimates cited by Reuters, just under 6.5 million out of roughly 17.5 million eligible voters took part in the “consultation,” including some 845,000 people living abroad. The outcome of the “consultation” did not seem to affect the political situation in the Latin American nation hit by strict US sanctions targeting its oil sector and exacerbating a prolonged economic crisis.

Maduro himself brushed off the opposition’s initiative by saying that “no internet consultation has constitutional status” or any “legal value.” In 11 out of 24 Venezuela’s states, the law enforcement sought to disrupt the in-person participation in the “consultation” by removing the informal voting sites, the organizers complained. Still, they themselves ended up destroying all the traces of the “consultation”, at least at some of the improvised polling stations. A video published on the social media shows a pile of ballots and voting records burning on the floor at one of such sites in the northern Miranda state. The organizers claimed they did so to protect the identities of the participants.

Read more …

“..the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning”

Sunday Times Claims Navalny Was Poisoned Twice (Robinson)

This weekend’s article in the Sunday Times is probably meant to undermine the doubters. In reality, it’s likely to have the opposite result. For its claims are so outrageous that many thinking people will react with laughter, and then perhaps start questioning the poisoning story as a whole. According to the Sunday Times, Navalny wasn’t poisoned by a nerve agent smeared on his water bottle, as has previously been asserted, but rather was attacked by means of his underpants. Moreover, he wasn’t poisoned once, but twice, and despite Novichok’s reputation for extreme deadliness, both attempts failed.

When examined, though, these claims don’t amount to much. The Sunday Times story is nearly 4,000 words long, but 95 percent of it is irrelevant filler, including the comical assertion that the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning” (because, of course, nobody other than Russians ever poisoned anyone). The allegations regarding the attack on Navalny take up a mere 100 words of the 4,000-word total. As well as being brief, they are to say the least unproven. The Sunday Times says: “Vladimir Uglev, a retired Russian chemist who developed nerve agents, believes Navalny’s poisoners would have been instructed to place novichok on the elastic waistband of his pants, where it would come into contact with his skin. … A German laboratory later found traces of a nerve agent on the surface of one of the water bottles. Uglev, the retired chemist, believes that this is because Navalny touched it having got novichok on his fingers after putting on his underpants.”

In other words, the underpants story is just what a single Russian scientist, unconnected to the case, happens to think. Nothing more. Does Uglev provide any evidence to prove his assertion? No. He just “believes” it. Yet, this is sufficient for the Sunday Times to treat the story as essentially true, leading off its article with the claim that, “Navalny was exposed to a nerve agent – not, as initially believed, when he drank a cup of tea in the departure lounge but when he got dressed that morning.” This is not exactly good reporting. If the underwear story smells a little off, so too does the claim that Russian secret agents tried to murder Navalny not once, but twice.

As evidence, the Sunday Times says that, “German security sources have told their associates in the UK that the attackers struck again as Navalny lay in an induced coma before being put on a medical flight to Germany. ‘This was with a view to him being dead by the time he arrived in Berlin,’ one source said.” To put it another way, an anonymous person (probably a member of the British intelligence or security services) told a journalist that some other anonymous person believes that this is so. In other words, it’s not just hearsay, but anonymous hearsay. One can believe it if one wishes. But there’s no particular reason why one should.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 142020
 


Adolphe Yvon Genius of America c1870

 

Data Shows Ample US Hospital Capacity Nationwide (JTN)
‘Autoantibodies’ May Be Driving Severe Covid Cases (G.)
‘Like Nothing Happened’: Sydney Restaurants Are Bustling (AFR)
Ivermectin May Improve the Prognosis of Patients With COVID-19 (Science)
Sen. Manchin: Bipartisan COVID19 Relief Plan To Be Released On Monday (JTN)
Electoral College Voting Is Slated For Monday (JTN)
China’s Global Power Tops The US? New Measures Say No! (Brands)
Major Leak Of Members ‘Lifts The Lid’ On The Chinese Communist Party (Sky.au)
Expect the Most Evictions in History as Ban Expires (Mish)
Iowa Autopsy Report: DNC Meddling Led To Caucus Debacle (Pol.)
Hillary So Far Finds No Role On Team Biden (JTN)
Britons Told Not To Stockpile Food Ahead Of January (BBC)
President Trump Open to the Idea of Pardoning Edward Snowden (LH)

 

 

 

 

Too much panicking about this. To know if a system is overwhelmed at any given point, you must know what its normal occupancy rate is. 90% capacity sounds scary, but not if it’s always at that capacity this time of year.

Data Shows Ample US Hospital Capacity Nationwide (JTN)

As fears persist of overwhelmed medical systems and at-capacity hospitals nationwide, data indicate that ample hospital space remains available for both COVID-19 patients and other medical needs, with one official at a major hospital network stating that the country is “managing pretty well” the latest surge of COVID-19. For most of 2020, rising positive test results of COVID-19 have brought with them fears of swamped hospitals, overwhelmed medical systems, emergency patients being turned away, and COVID-19 patients being triaged, suffering and dying in hallways and vestibules. Much of that fear crystallized in the early stages of the pandemic, when parts of the northern Italian medical system were put under significant strain due to a crush of COVID-19 patients.

In response, leaders and medical officials around the world suspended elective surgeries and constructed emergency medical facilities to cope with anticipated waves of COVID-19 patients. In many cases those facilities were eventually shuttered for lack of patients, even after millions of dollars had been invested in their construction. In Chicago, for instance, the city spent $120,000,000 on four facilities to treat a total of 38 patients. The latest spike in positive COVID tests has brought renewed fears of hospitals straining under an influx of COVID-19 patients, with some facilities across the country reporting difficulties managing large numbers of patients, either from a dwindling number of scarce beds or not enough medical officials to man them, or both.

Yet federal government data compiled from state-level reports suggests that hospitals nationwide have considerable space left to deal with both routine medical issues and COVID-19 patients. The Department of Health and Human Services offers on its website estimates of hospitalization rates across the United States. The data, the department says, is “estimated from hospital submissions, either reported through their state or reported through HHS Protect,” which the department describes as “a secure data ecosystem … for sharing, parsing, housing, and accessing COVID-19 data.” The HHS numbers belie forecasts of impending collapse of the U.S. medical system. As of Saturday, the department estimated that hospitals nationwide were at about 75% capacity. ICU beds were even lower, at 63.5%. Patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 occupied just under 15% of all beds nationwide.

Even in areas that have recently posted huge surges in positive COVID tests, the numbers were largely similar to the national average: In New York, 76% of hospital beds (and 61% of ICU beds) were taken. Dr. Joanne Roberts, the chief value officer of Providence St. Joseph Health system, told Just the News that “a well-functioning hospital probably runs about 85% capacity on an average day.” The problem, she pointed out, is that a virus like COVID-19 can “quickly overwhelm that last 15%” due to its virulency and ability to send a significant number of patients to the hospital at once.

Read more …

“Because antibodies can persist for a long time, it’s conceivable that they may contribute to the development of long-Covid diseases..”

‘Autoantibodies’ May Be Driving Severe Covid Cases (G.)

Dramatic levels of “friendly fire” from the immune system may drive severe Covid-19 disease and leave patients with “long Covid” – when medical problems persist for a significant time after the virus has been beaten – scientists have said. Researchers at Yale University found that Covid-19 patients had large numbers of misguided antibodies in their blood that targeted the organs, tissues and the immune system itself, rather than fighting off the invading virus. The scientists compared immune responses in patients and uninfected people and discovered scores of aberrant antibodies in the former.These blocked antiviral defences, wiped out helpful immune cells, and attacked the body on multiple fronts, from the brain, blood vessels and liver to connective tissue and the gastrointestinal tract.

Further tests revealed that the more “autoantibodies” patients had in their blood, the worse their disease. The Covid-19 patients had more antibodies that had turned on them than people with lupus, an autoimmune disease caused by similar wayward antibodies. “Covid-19 patients make autoantibodies that actually interfere with immune responses against the virus,” said Aaron Ring, an immunobiologist at Yale and senior author on the study. Numerous other autoantibodies attacked parts of the body that are known to become damaged in those with the disease. “We certainly believe that these autoantibodies are harmful to patients with Covid-19,” said Ring, adding that the harmful effects may well continue after the infection has abated, leaving patients with longer-lasting medical problems. “Because antibodies can persist for a long time, it’s conceivable that they may contribute to the development of long-Covid diseases,” he said. Ring partnered with Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale, to screen 194 patients and hospital workers with varying severities of Covid infection for autoantibodies that targeted nearly 3,000 human proteins.

Antibodies disable viruses by latching on to proteins on the virus surface, but autoantibodies are the wrong shape and mistakenly bind to proteins that are on, or have been released by, human cells. Writing in the study, which has yet to be peer reviewed and published in a journal, the scientists describe how Covid patients had “dramatic increases in autoantibody reactivities” compared with 30 healthy hospital workers who did not have the virus. While certain autoantibodies in some patients were apparently present before Covid-19 infection, others appeared and ramped up as the disease progressed. More than 5% of hospitalised patients had autoantibodies that weakened a key arm of the immune defence that is orchestrated by proteins called interferons. These patients were unable to control the amount of virus in their bodies and so developed more serious illness.

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Has the word “ivermectin” been banned on social media? I see people spell it as iv3rm3ctin.

Ivermectin May Improve the Prognosis of Patients With COVID-19 (Science)

Dear Editor:
The pandemic coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has been spread rapidly worldwide with considerable morbidity and mortality. COVID-19 patients have various clinical presentations: asymptomatic, exhibit mild flu-like symptoms, be severely ill or death. In addition to elder age and comorbidities, higher levels of D-dimer and C-reactive protein (CRP) and lower levels of lymphocyte and eosinophil as well as a cytokine storm are associated with disease severity in COVID-19 patients. The virus load may be a main determinant underlying the pathological diversity in COVID-19 patients.

Thus, an effective antiviral treatment is essential to improve the prognosis of patients with COVID-19.7 In the absence of specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents, various drugs with antiviral potential are now used to contain the virus in COVID-19 patients. Ivermectin, a US FDA-approved anthelminthic, has garnered enormous interest for treating COVID-19 as it is safe and cheap and has strong antiviral activities against board ranges of viruses including SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. Despite the widespread use of ivermectin, to our knowledge, there is currently no published clinical reports of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients. Here, we assessed the clinical efficacy of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients.

This retrospective study enrolled a total of 325 consecutive patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of nasal swabs in SK hospital, a unit dedicated to COVID-19 at Mymensingh Medical College Hospital (MMCH), Mymensingh, Bangladesh, from April to June 2020. Of these, the present study included 248 adult COVID-19 patients free from any other serious pathological conditions: 115 received ivermectin plus standard care (SC), while 133 received only SC. Remaining 77 patients who were under 18 years of age or transferred from other facilities and received different management approaches including partial hospital stays or treated with different therapeutic agents prior to hospital admission were excluded from the analysis.

The two groups were compared in terms of time to SARS-CoV-2 negativity, disease progression (develop pneumonia to severe respiratory distress), duration of hospital stays, and mortality rate. Ivermectin was given once at dose of 12 mg within 24-h after hospital admission. SC was provided as required and included antipyretics for fever, anti-histamines for cough, and antibiotics to control secondary infection. The study was approved by MMCH and informed consent was obtained from all patients or their relatives before starting treatment. Categorical variables are shown as frequencies and percentages and continuous variables as the median and interquartile range (IQR). Differences with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed to show the level of certainty. Paired t-tests or Pearson Chi-square test were used to analyze statistical differences. All calculations were performed using SAS, version 9.4 (Cary, NC, USA).

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Meanwhile, on the other side of the world…

‘Like Nothing Happened’: Sydney Restaurants Are Bustling (AFR)

At lunchtime in Barangaroo in downtown Sydney, it’s as though the pandemic never happened. Restaurants and cafes are bustling, and Matias Munoz, assistant manager at Bel and Brio, says the Italian restaurant has been flat out from open to close. “I think it’s because they’ve had a really tough year and they want to celebrate. That’s what the customers say to me,” Mr Munoz said. The NSW government on Monday lifted a public health order requiring employers to let staff work from home in the hope of bringing customers back to struggling city businesses. New mobility data shows residents in most capital cities are driving more than ever, with Sydney 17 per cent above the benchmark set in January before the pandemic lockdown.

Capacity on NSW’s public transport is being boosted as the government rolls back health restrictions and social distancing requirements. Most employers do not plan to bring workers back to their desks until early next year, and consumer data shows hospitality venues in central business districts have been gutted. But tell that to Mr Munoz, whose restaurant reopened in July after the first lockdown. “We reopened and it looked like nothing happened. People were coming like normal,” he said. The restaurant is handling 400 bookings per day. Trade lulled during the early days of Victoria’s second wave as even Sydneysiders stayed home before quickly recovering.

“Compared to the last year, we’re doing the same numbers,” Mr Munoz said. Even on a Monday, typically their quietest day, the restaurant is packed. Joseph Le, manager at nearby Lotus, was overseeing a full house and said it was good to be back to normal after the worrying he experienced during the early days of the pandemic. “[I thought] am I going to lose my job? How can I pay my bills?” Mr Le said. “I’m so happy and lucky to be here.”

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Better get it done, and done well. It’s Christmas time.

Sen. Manchin: Bipartisan COVID19 Relief Plan To Be Released On Monday (JTN)

Senator Joe Manchin during an interview on Fox News Sunday with host Chris Wallace said that a bipartisan group of lawmakers’ proposed COVID-19 relief legislation will be released on Monday. Wallace asked if a $908 billion compromise plan is off the table, and if there were a chance that Congress would leave Washington for the rest of the year without passing a COVID relief bill. Manchin responded that “the plan is alive and well,” and he shot down the concept of Congress skipping town before approving any relief. “We’ll have a bill produced for the American people tomorrow, $908 billion dollars,” the West Virginia Democrat said about the proposal that will be shared. “We’re trying to get through the toughest first quarter of our country that we’ve ever faced.”


Manchin said he could not guarantee that the legislation would pass. “But I can tell you one thing: What’s the alternative? What are you going to do? We’ve given one month, day and night, our staffs have worked around the clock,” he said. “We’ve done everything we can to put an all-inclusive product together. Pick whatever parts you like, whatever parts you don’t like. Put it all together or take it as a whole. We’re gonna give it to you the way we think the American people need it. In an emergency situation, we need this legislation.”

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Sidney Powell announced 4 major cases to go before SCOTUS. We’re not done yet, but we’re getting there.

Electoral College Voting Is Slated For Monday (JTN)

Members of the Electoral College will cast their votes for president on Monday, with Joe Biden expected to receive 306 electoral votes compared to just 232 for President Trump. A candidate must secure 270 to win the presidency. The step comes as President Trump has so far chosen not to concede to Biden, filing a host of lawsuits alleging that fraud tainted the 2020 election. The U.S. Constitution provides that each state will have a quantity of electors equivalent to the combined number of senators and House members that the state is entitled to have in the nation’s legislature. Thus, states with larger populations have more electoral votes than states with smaller populations. The candidate who wins the national popular vote does not always win the Electoral College vote.

But the Electoral College vote, not the national popular vote, determines which candidate wins the presidential contest. The Associated Press reported that the Electoral College does not meet in one central location, but electors for every state and the District of Columbia gather at a location selected by their own legislature. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, states award all of their Electoral College votes to the winner of the state’s popular vote. Nevada and Maine divide their Electoral College votes between the statewide winner and the victor in each congressional district. “Maine awards two of its four electoral votes to the statewide winner, but also allocates an electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each of its two congressional districts,” according to CBS News. “Nebraska gives two of its five electoral votes to the statewide winner, with the remaining three going to the popular vote winner in each of its three congressional districts.”

“In 32 states and the District of Columbia, laws require electors to vote for the popular-vote winner,” the AP reported. “Electors almost always vote for the state winner anyway, because they generally are devoted to their political party,” the outlet noted. On Jan. 6, Vice President Mike Pence will preside over a joint session of the U.S. Congress and the votes will be counted. If a minimum of one lawmaker from each chamber of the nation’s bicameral legislature objects via writing to some electoral votes, each chamber would debate the matter separately. “An objection to a state’s electoral vote must be approved by both houses in order for any contested votes to be excluded,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

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How to measure power.

China’s Global Power Tops The US? New Measures Say No! (Brands)

Traditionally, measures of power focused on attributes such as population, energy consumption and production of steel or other indicators of industrial strength. In the information age, these indices tell us relatively little about whether a country can get its way in world affairs. It is still common, though, to assess power through blunt measures like GDP or military spending. Analysts who argue that Beijing is overtaking the U.S. habitually note that China’s GDP may soon surpass America’s. But GDP is a snapshot of activity rather than a measure of overall wealth. Some countries that spend massively on military power, such as Saudi Arabia, are quite useless in projecting it. So how can we determine the balance of advantage in a long rivalry? The groundbreaking academic work is giving us better answers.

The first category focuses on refining our grasp of economic and military might. Michael Beckley of the American Enterprise Institute (where I am also a fellow) has developed a model that measures net power rather than gross power by accounting for things such as security costs (“the price a government pays to police and protect its citizens”) and production costs (how much it costs, in material and environmental degradation, to build that coal power plant). He finds, not surprisingly, that the U.S. fares far better than China, an authoritarian state with vast internal security costs and a prodigiously wasteful approach to stimulating growth. Similarly, it is critical that American per capita GDP dwarfs China’s, because that means the U.S. has more wealth left over, after it feeds its population, to pursue global influence. Other work has better accounted for the way wealth accrues over time, and found that the U.S. will still have far more overall economic power than China even after China’s GDP eclipses America’s.

The second category better captures the reality of “network power.” In a landmark paper published in 2019, Abraham Newman of Georgetown University and Henry Farrell, my colleague at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, argue that the centrality of the dollar to international financial networks — which persists, despite decades of handwringing about its decline — gives the U.S. outsized coercive leverage. Scholars have also affirmed something that policymakers have long understood: America punches far above its own weight in global affairs, because of the network of military, economic and diplomatic partners it leads. China has nothing equivalent.

The third category accounts for less tangible forms of power. For decades, analysts have grasped that soft power — the degree of admiration and emulation a country inspires — matters enormously. An intriguing study by Ted Hopf of the National University of Singapore, Bentley Allan of Johns Hopkins and Srdjan Vucetic of the University of Ottawa demonstrates that, even though America’s global favorability ratings have plummeted under President Donald Trump, there remains strong global support for democracy and free-market economic policies. That’s a body blow for an authoritarian, mercantilist China, which, the authors predict, “is unlikely to become the hegemon in the near term.” It also helps explain why European states are systematically turning away from Beijing even amid enormous turbulence in their relations with the U.S.

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A lot of interest in China these days.

Major Leak Of Members ‘Lifts The Lid’ On The Chinese Communist Party (Sky.au)

A major leak containing a register with the details of nearly two million CCP members has occurred – exposing members who are now working all over the world, while also lifting the lid on how the party operates under Xi Jinping, says Sharri Markson. Ms Markson said the leak is a register with the details of Communist Party members, including their names, party position, birthday, national ID number and ethnicity. “It is believed to be the first leak of its kind in the world,” the Sky News host said. “What’s amazing about this database is not just that it exposes people who are members of the communist party, and who are now living and working all over the world, from Australia to the US to the UK,” Ms Markson said. “But it’s amazing because it lifts the lid on how the party operates under President and Chairman Xi Jinping”.


Ms Markson said the leak demonstrates party branches are embedded in some of the world’s biggest companies and even inside government agencies. “Communist party branches have been set up inside western companies, allowing the infiltration of those companies by CCP members – who, if called on, are answerable directly to the communist party, to the Chairman, the president himself,” she said. “Along with the personal identifying details of 1.95 million communist party members, mostly from Shanghai, there are also the details of 79,000 communist party branches, many of them inside companies”. Ms Markson said the leak is a significant security breach likely to embarrass Xi Jinping. “It is also going to embarrass some global companies who appear to have no plan in place to protect their intellectual property from theft. From economic espionage,” she said.

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In a pandemic. Is there a worse idea possible?

Expect the Most Evictions in History as Ban Expires (Mish)

“Millions of U.S. renters face the prospect of eviction in January unless federal officials extend protections put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. That month is when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ban on evictions is set to expire. The moratorium protects tenants who have missed monthly rent payments from being thrown out of their homes if they declare financial hardship. The CDC ordered the halt on evictions under the Public Health Service Act, which allows the federal government to enact regulations that help stop the spread of infectious diseases. Between 2.4 million and 5 million American households are at risk of eviction in January alone, and millions more will be vulnerable in the months after, according to estimates from the investment bank and financial-advisory firm Stout Risius Ross.

Landlords have already filed more than 150,000 eviction petitions during the pandemic in the 27 cities tracked by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. Many of those tenants have lost their cases, and are now on the hook for all their back rent.” ‘I don’t see how it’s possible that we’re not going to see more evictions on Jan. 1 than we’ve ever seen in a month,’ said John Pollock, staff attorney at the Public Justice Center It’s easy to sympathize with tenants but what about landlords who cannot pay mortgages? Are we to postpone evictions forever while landlords lose their property? There has been no discussion in any of the recent Covid packages for further moratoriums nor aid to landlords who have not been paid for months. So unless there is specific aid sufficient aid in the bill to allow tenants to catch up, millions of evictions are on the way.

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After protecting the DNC for years, the press suddenly wake up?!

Iowa Autopsy Report: DNC Meddling Led To Caucus Debacle (Pol.)

Democratic National Committee meddling, combined with missteps by the state Democratic Party, were the primary drivers of the chaos that torpedoed the Iowa caucuses earlier this year, according to a new audit commissioned by the state party. The report, which was distributed to the Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee at a meeting Saturday morning and obtained by POLITICO, identified a series of errors made by the DNC, IDP and the technology company contracted by the state party to build a reporting app to collect caucus results. The February caucuses were overrun by foul-ups: The state party was unable to report a winner on caucus night, the mobile app to report results failed to work for many precinct chairs, the back-up telephone systems were jammed and some precincts had initial reporting errors.

The state party chair, Troy Price, resigned in the wake of the debacle, which put Iowa’s status as the first in the nation nominating contest in serious jeopardy. But the report pins the blame squarely on the DNC for the heart of the problem on caucus night — the delay in the reporting of the results. According to the report, the DNC demanded the technology company, Shadow, build a conversion tool just weeks before the caucuses to allow the DNC to have real-time access to the raw numbers because the national party feared the app would miscalculate results. The DNC’s data system used a different database format than Shadow’s reporting app, which caused multiple problems.

“Attempting to graft an entirely new software element onto the back-end reporting system at the proverbial eleventh hour is likely always going to be problematic, and it was ultimately the cause of a major problem on caucus night,” the report concludes. “Furthermore, the IDP was not involved in the development of this tool. The IDP simply permitted the DNC to direct the IDP’s vendor.” The audit states the conversion tool had coding errors that spit out inaccurate numbers and caused confusion about the accuracy of the results, eventually leading to delays in reporting. But the state party’s app never malfunctioned nor was hacked, the report concludes.

“When the DNC’s database conversion tool failed to work correctly, it caused the DNC to wrongly stop the IDP from reporting its results, and the IDP’s entire planned reporting process was thrown into disarray,” the report says. “The DNC’s interjection was the catalyst for the resulting chaos in the boiler room and in the IDP’s attempts to manually collect and confirm caucus results by hand. If the DNC had not interjected itself into the results reporting process based on its erroneous data conversion, caucus night could conceivably have proceeded according to the IDP’s initial plan.”

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But Samantha Power is back in, it appears.

Hillary So Far Finds No Role On Team Biden (JTN)

Have you noticed? Hillary Clinton is suddenly — and finally — nowhere to be found. Well before she lost the 2016 presidential election to President Trump, the former first lady pushed a conspiracy theory that eventually grew into a major, two-year investigation: Trump had colluded with the Russians in order to alter the outcome of the race. That didn’t pan out, but Hillary had other excuses. For months — which turned into years — she blamed FBI Director James Comey, Russia, computer bots, WikiLeaks, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Facebook, Joe Biden, fake news, Twitter, voter ID laws, the vast right-wing conspiracy, sexism, Barack Obama, ageism, child sex pervert Anthony Weiner, white women, xenophobia, black people, the Electoral College, the Democratic National Committee, misogyny, women cowed by their husbands, and even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (how America’s Mayor caused Clinton to lose Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Michigan and Florida is anybody’s guess).

But the mainstream media despises Trump, and Clinton was a reliable gadfly, so she stayed in the news regularly. She even made millions hawking her book, “What Happened,” her take on why she lost the election. Yet it’s been more than a month since Election Day 2020, and Americans haven hardly heard a peep out of her. What’s more, the former secretary of state for President Barack Obama has been given no role in a prospective Biden administration, even though at 72 she’s younger the 78-year-old Biden. It’s not like Biden hasn’t made room for others from former administrations. After all, he found room as climate czar for John Kerry, who served as secretary of state from 2013 to 2017 under Obama. But so far, nothing for Clinton.

Clinton’s omission is odd, given that she won nearly 66 million votes in 2016. She also represents a powerful wing of the party — albeit an old and fading faction — along with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who remains extremely popular with the rank and file of the party. And she’s got the bona fides: Secretary of State, two-term senator, and architect of a planned overhaul of health care that eventually morphed into Obamacare. As Biden made room for Kerry on climate, he could give Clinton a role on health care. And the former vice president could tap Hillary’s decades of experience, even if just as an adviser, whether formal or informal.

Shortly after Election Day, rumors circulated that Biden was considering Clinton for a role in his administration, perhaps as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The move “would be a way for Biden to highlight the importance of that position in his administration, and that placing her there would raise the prestige of the U.N. itself at a time when global cooperation and the U.S. role on the world stage, has ebbed,” sources told the Washington Post. But a few weeks later, Biden picked Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the foreign service who oversaw the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration, for the slot.

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Yes, you got that right. The day after the UK government tells supermarkets to stockpile food, they now tell their citizens to do the opposite. Sweet Jesus.

Britons Told Not To Stockpile Food Ahead Of January (BBC)

Households have been warned not to stockpile food and toilet roll ahead of 1 January when the UK stops trading under EU rules. On Sunday, the UK and the EU agreed to extend a deadline aimed at reaching a deal on post-Brexit trade. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said ongoing uncertainty made it harder for firms to prepare for the New Year. But it said shops had plenty of supplies and shoppers must not buy more food than usual. “Retailers are doing everything they can to prepare for all eventualities on 1 January – increasing the stock of tins, toilet rolls and other longer life products so there will be sufficient supply of essential products,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.


“While no amount of preparation by retailers can entirely prevent disruption there is no need for the public to buy more food than usual as the main impact will be on imported fresh produce, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, which cannot be stored for long periods by either retailers or consumers.” Supermarkets are now used to dealing with anxious shoppers. During the first lockdown earlier this year to stop the spread of the coronavirus, grocers introduced limits on goods such as toilet roll, dried pasta and UHT milk after panic buying by Britons. There are fears shoppers might think disruption at ports after 31 December could lead to shortages in shops as the UK transitions to new trading rules with the EU.

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Of course Snowden has urged him to pardon Assange.

President Trump Open to the Idea of Pardoning Edward Snowden (LH)

The push to have President Trump pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is heating up as a group in Congress has been urging the President to do the right thing and free this patriot. There have been a growing list of Republicans and Democrats that are pushing the outgoing President to do the right thing and grant a full and complete pardon of Snowden so he can return home to the United States. Edward Snowden is famous for declassifying an NSA program that was used to spy on the American people. He has been hunted for years by the federal government and has sought asylum in multiple countries.

Currently he resides in Russia where is viewed in Liberty circles as a patriot for his act to expose the governments attempt to pry into the lives of ordinary Americans. He deserves a pardon and Trump needs to use one of his last acts as President to make history right. Call your Congressman and women and urge them to put pressure of the White House. Contact the White House as well using this link.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 062020
 
 December 6, 2020  Posted by at 10:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Absinthe Drinker 1901

 

Large-Scale Covid19 Vaccination Campaign Kicks Off In Moscow (RT)
The Vaccine Race is a Race Against Capital Flight (Luongo)
US COVID Deaths Projected To More Than Double To 410,000 By January (R.)
Florida Requires Labs To Report ‘Cycle Threshold’ Of COVID-19 Tests (JTN)
COVID Will Drive Global Debt To $200 Trillion By End Of 2020 – S&P (RT)
Bernie Sanders Mocks Those Who Believe The Deep State Exists (Greenwald)
The President Can Pardon Himself, But That Does Not Mean He Should (Turley)
Rep. Mo Brooks’ Challenge To Electoral College Certification (JTN)
Budgets, Vetoes, Values, Defence … Division And Dithering Shame The EU (O.)
UK Urged To Follow Denmark In Ending North Sea Oil And Gas Exploration (O.)

 

 

Vaccines and autoimmune

 

 

 

 

 

 

First (though admittedly, China is a mystery).

Large-Scale Covid19 Vaccination Campaign Kicks Off In Moscow (RT)

A wide-ranging anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign began in Moscow on Saturday, with thousands signing up for shots online, in the Russian capital. Frontline workers were given first priority, as previous indicated. Those wishing to participate have to sign up online before receiving their initial dose of Sputnik V at one of the city’s 70 specialist clinics. The vaccine consists of two separate injections, the second jab must be administered 21 days after the first one. The whole procedure, which includes the time needed to cool down the formula after it’s removed from the freezer, takes less than an hour, officials said. Injections are administered to people aged between 18 and 60 that present no chronic health conditions. Those who have had respiratory infections, like flu or common cold, less than two weeks ago, are not eligible. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are also barred, for now.


On Friday, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin wrote on his blog that 5,000 people had signed up for the vaccine in five hours after online registration was launched. He said they were doctors, care workers, and teachers, who were “risking their health and lives the most.” Vaccination is free for Russian citizens. Senior health official Alexey Kuznetsov announced that Sputnik V’s maximum commercial price will be 1,942 rubles ($26) for both injections. President Vladimir Putin authorized the start of a large-scale vaccination campaign on Wednesday. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said all of Russia’s regions would roll out their campaigns next week. Meanwhile, select groups of doctors and nurses had already been getting the vaccine, with the priority given to those on the frontline against Covid-19. The vaccination began in some army units as well.

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Expect horror stories about Russian vaccines.

The Vaccine Race is a Race Against Capital Flight (Luongo)

The ruble rose sharply versus the dollar this week, collapsing below the critical 76 level to close this week below 74. More evidence that with Putin’s announcement of Sputnik V vaccine distribution starting Russia the markets are looking for a home where capital can have a prayer in hell of being treated well. Because that will most certainly not be the case in Europe. The only reasons the euro is rising in on political instability in the U.S. and the lack of forward budget thanks to the veto by Hungary and Poland. Because while the euro may be breaking out versus the dollar the bellwether bond markets in Europe, namely German bunds, are rising in yield.

While this isn’t a bear market in any sense since the selling hasn’t overwhelmed ECB buying, it’s also hard to determine if that would ever happen given just how much of the European sovereign debt market the ECB actually owns now. Investors in the West are trying to beat the COVID-19 narrative, pinning their hope of economic recovery on the vaccine restoring normality. But if there is one thing I’ve noted over and over again over the past ten months, it is that the goal posts for normality keep getting moved. Remember 15 days to flatten the curve? Now it’s a 100-day mask mandates with state-by-state full lockdowns. Anyone thinking that we’ll ever return to anything resembling the old world is terminally naïve.

The race for global capital begins now with Russia’s roll out of Sputnik V by the millions of doses. It doesn’t matter if the vaccine works or it doesn’t. Pfizer’s doesn’t. What matters is what excuses politicians can make to fit their agenda. Putin wants to make Russia a destination for global capital, keeping Russia open for business. Russia pushing Sputnik V out the door this quickly is forcing the West’s hand. They wanted bigger lockdowns for longer. Asia will stay open while the West plays games resetting its system. They are really angry at the Russians for being good at math and science.

That is why the race for the vaccine is actually the race for global capital in the end. Because the rollout of the vaccine asymmetrically around the world will be followed by where watching where the capital will flow to. Russia will be one of those places along with everyone they sell it to and everyone they do business with. COVID-19 is a litmus test of governments. Investors are looking around now looking for where the political risk really lies over the next decade. Sanctions, threats and capital controls can only slow the outflow but it can’t stop it.

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Winter is a bigger factor than most acknowledged.

US COVID Deaths Projected To More Than Double To 410,000 By January (R.)

U.S. deaths from the coronavirus will reach 410,000 by the end of the year, more than double the current death toll, and deaths could soar to 3,000 per day in December, the University of Washington’s health institute forecast on Friday. Deaths could be reduced by 30% if more Americans wore face masks as epidemiologists have advised, but mask-wearing is declining, the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said. The U.S. death rate projected by the IHME model, which has been cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, would more than triple the current death rate of some 850 per day.

“We expect the daily death rate in the United States, because of seasonality and declining vigilance of the public, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December,” the institute, which bills itself as an independent research center, said in an update of its periodic forecasts. “Cumulative deaths expected by January 1 are 410,000; this is 225,000 deaths from now until the end of the year,” the institute said. It previously projected 317,697 deaths by Dec. 1. The model’s outlook for the world was even more dire, with deaths projected to triple to 2.8 million by Jan. 1, 2021. The United States, which has the world’s third largest population, leads the planet with more than 186,000 COVID-19 deaths and 6.1 million coronavirus infections.

[..] The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues forecasts only four weeks in advance, and its latest estimate is for 200,000 to 211,000 dead by Sept. 26. But the institute said with so many Americans still refusing to wear masks, there remains “an extraordinary opportunity” to save lives. “Increasing mask use to the levels seen in Singapore would decrease the cumulative death toll to 288,000, or 122,000 lives saved compared to the reference scenario,” it said. “Mask use continues to decline from a peak in early August. Declines are notable throughout the Midwest, including in some states such as Illinois and Iowa with increasing case numbers,” the report said.

Although U.S. infections have declined to around 45,000 per day from a peak of around 70,000 per day in July, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death, the institute said. That would place it behind only heart disease, having surpassed cancer as a cause of death in the United States.

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How much sense can you make?

Florida Requires Labs To Report ‘Cycle Threshold’ Of COVID-19 Tests (JTN)

The Florida Department of Health is requiring that all labs in the state report the critical “cycle threshold” level of every COVID-19 test they perform. In a press release this week, the department said that, regarding COVID-19 tests, “cycle threshold (CT) values and their reference ranges, as applicable, must be reported by laboratories to FDOH via electronic laboratory reporting or by fax immediately.” “Cycle thresholds” are the level at which widely used polymerase chain reaction test can detect a sample of the COVID-19 virus.


The higher the number of cycles, the lower the amount of viral load in the sample; the lower the cycles, the more prevalent the virus was in the original sample. Numerous epidemiological experts have argued that cycle thresholds are an important metric by which patients and the public can make an informed decision about how infectious and/or sick an individual with a positive COVID-19 test might be. However, health departments across the country are failing to collect that data.

Read more …

Keep rates low or else!

COVID Will Drive Global Debt To $200 Trillion By End Of 2020 – S&P (RT)

The world’s appetite for borrowing is growing with global debt expected to reach the next milestone of $200 trillion as early as this year, according to ratings agency S&P Global. That will reportedly account for 265 percent of the world’s annual economic output, amounting to a 14-point rise as a percentage of world GDP. The dramatic surge was triggered by both the economic plunge due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the extra borrowing that governments, firms and households have had to fall back upon, the New York-based agency said. “Global debt-to-GDP has been trending up for many years; the pandemic simply exacerbated the rise,” the report reads.


Despite mounting debt and a series of defaults over the coming year, the S&P doesn’t expect a major crisis any time soon. “The projected 14-percent surge in global debt-to-GDP in 2020 is unlikely to cause a near-term debt crisis, provided economies recover, vaccines are widely distributed, interest rates remain very low, and borrowing behavior moderates,” the agency said. The global debt-to-GDP ratio will reportedly ease back to 256 percent within two years, as soon as the world economy gets back on its feet after the pandemic. “We expect the debt growth of corporates, governments, and household to ease as they tend to after recessions,” the report reads.

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Bernie never recovered from the smears.

Bernie Sanders Mocks Those Who Believe The Deep State Exists (Greenwald)

That Putin wanted Tump to win was one of the leading themes used by Democratic-Party-allied media outlets to attack Trump, rendering it crippling for Sanders to be similarly tied to Moscow, particularly given the perception that Putin would help Sanders because the Kremlin judged him to be the weakest candidate against the GOP president. Indeed, The Post article explicitly drew the Sanders/Trump comparison (emphasis added): The disclosure of Russian assistance to Sanders follows a briefing to lawmakers last week in which a senior intelligence official said that Russia wants to see Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments. . . .

The prospect of two rival campaigns both receiving help from Moscow appears to reflect what intelligence officials have previously described as Russia’s broader interest in sowing division in the United States and uncertainty about the validity of American elections. Reflecting his 2020 strategy of trying to appease the Democratic establishment in lieu of his more successful 2016 strategy of proudly positioning himself as its adversary, Sanders by this point had repeatedly echoed the maximalist conspiracy theories about Trump and Russia, leaving him with little room to maneuver once this Cold War tactic was predictably deployed against him. After suggesting the leak to The Post was intended to harm his campaign, he had no other options beyond sputtering with faux-toughness about how he would show Putin who was boss.

In other words — both prior to the leak and after — Sanders repeatedly validated rather than scorned the CIA’s Russia narrative (just as he did with the equally cynical Bernie Bro attacks). So it put him in a defensive crouch for the rest of the campaign, unable to explain why Putin — Public Enemy Number One among the Democratic Party base — was trying to help him win.

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“..it would be as constitutional as it would be wrong.”

The President Can Pardon Himself, But That Does Not Mean He Should (Turley)

It seems the subject of Donald Trump, like necessity, is the mother of invention, at least when it comes to legal analysis. From bribery statutes to constitutional provisions, legal experts routinely and unfailingly conclude that Trump or his family can be prosecuted or impeached for an endless array of misdeeds. Even theories denied by the Supreme Court are seen as valid when used against Trump. Now the same certainty has been declared on whether Trump can grant himself a pardon. One of the longest standing debates in constitutional law is dismissed as ill-informed by some of the same experts. His role as a catalyst for clarity was apparent in an interview by Harvard professor Laurence Tribe.

After host Lawrence O’Donnell said he believed a president could give himself a pardon, Tribe proclaimed such a view is “incoherent and incompatible” as a constitutional matter. The declaration likely surprised few on MSNBC. Tribe has been an outspoken critic of Trump, whom he has denounced as a “terrorist,” and he has supported a wide array of criminal and constitutional claims against him. These views are popular as are Tribe’s increasingly personal diatribes, including vulgar attacks on Republican leaders and even a false attack on Attorney William Barr for his Catholic faith. For the record, I have maintained that a president can grant himself a pardon. I held that position before Trump took office. I also believe a president can be indicted in office.

The reason is the same: The Constitution prohibits neither a self-pardon nor a presidential indictment. This is not the first time that Tribe and I have disagreed. Two decades ago, we testified together at the impeachment hearing of President Clinton. At that time, Tribe was far more restrictive in his legal and constitutional interpretations, declaring that lying under oath in the Clinton case would not be an impeachable offense. While a federal court and Democrats agreed that Clinton knowingly committed perjury, Tribe insisted that a president could commit perjury in certain circumstances and not be impeached. Thus, a president can commit a felony for which thousands have been incarcerated, including those prosecuted by his own administration, but he should not be removed from office for the same act.

[..] The stronger argument against a presidential self-pardon is not the textual one raised by Tribe but, simply, that the Constitution should be read to include a principle against self-dealing. Yet presidents regularly engage in all forms of self-dealing, from nepotism to favoritism to cronyism, without a hint of constitutional difficulty. Bill Clinton not only appointed his wife to head a major federal commission on health care but pardoned his own half-brother. The Framers did not bar such forms of self-dealing any more than they barred self-pardons. This is why Trump can pardon himself, and why he should not do so. Just as I denounced Clinton for abusing the pardon powers, I believe such a step by Trump would be an even greater abuse. In other words, it would be as constitutional as it would be wrong.

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Dec 8 and Dec14 are arbitrary dates. Only Jan 20 is cast in stone.

Rep. Mo Brooks’ Challenge To Electoral College Certification (JTN)

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) faces an uphill battle if he challenges the Electoral College and backs President Trump on Jan. 6, when Congress is scheduled to certify Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. Brooks said this week he has been sharing his plan with fellow House members in hopes of invoking the 12th Amendment and helping Trump win. At least one senator must partner with Brooks to trigger a vote on an electoral challenge, and Brooks told Fox News Radio on Thursday, “We have some leads for United States Senators who may do it.” Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, in a contingent election no candidate wins a majority of Electoral College votes, and the election is thrown to the U.S. House of Representatives.

There, each state’s delegation has one vote, and a candidate must receive the votes of a majority of state delegations to win. Because of the calendar, the new Congress is the one that decides, not the outgoing one. In the new Congress, there are more states with Republican delegations than Democratic ones, so in that scenario, Trump would win. “Thank you to Representative Mo Brooks,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning after news of Brooks’ intention broke. “Ask your senators and congressman if they will object to any Electoral College certification of Joe Biden on January 6,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch tweeted Nov. 23. It’s unlikely, however, that Brooks would be able to successfully invoke the 12th Amendment if he can’t get a majority of both the House and the Senate to support his efforts.

Brooks said he doesn’t think he needs a majority. Legal experts disagree, arguing that while a single member of the House and Senate can raise an objection, majorities in both the House and the Senate would have to approve it for any electoral votes to be tossed out. This would not happen under a Democratic-controlled House. “They are misunderstanding the law,” says election law expert Hans von Spakovsky. The procedures for the counting of Electoral College votes in Congress are set forth in 3 U.S.C. 15, according to von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission and manager of the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative.

“What it says is that an objection can be filed to the certification of votes from the states when they are being counted in the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, if it is signed by one member of the House and one member of the Senate,” he told Just the News. “However, the Senate and the House then each have to stage a vote on the objection, which obviously will not go forward unless a majority of senators and a majority of representatives approve of the objection.”

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Poland and Hungary are becoming a very big problem for Europe.

Budgets, Vetoes, Values, Defence … Division And Dithering Shame The EU (O.)

It’s all happening at once for the EU. Fundamental problems and disputes, long fudged, postponed or ignored, are simultaneously coming to a head. Is this a union of shared values or of economic interests? Who pays the bills? How is Europe best defended when the US cannot be trusted? What about Turkey? And then there’s “bloody Brexit”. Little wonder some are predicting a nervous collapse. These fraught issues and more will converge at this week’s “doomsday” EU summit, presaging greater-than-usual fractiousness. But if it is as inconclusive as many previous gatherings, the European project faces serious trouble. Implementation of the €1.1tn, seven-year EU budget and €750bn Covid recovery fund cannot sensibly be delayed much longer. Yet two states – Poland and Hungary – are blocking the way.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s rightwing populist leader, and Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, jointly declared last week they would veto the budget if it retained “rule of law” criteria requiring adherence to EU-defined standards of judicial independence. Both governments are in long-running disputes over what Brussels views as their illiberal, “un-European” policies on judges, media freedom and women’s and gender rights. They reject what they call “politically motivated” meddling. The fact that the row is blocking timely pandemic relief shames the EU. If it cannot unite to fight this unprecedented human emergency, voters will ask, then what can it do? Even the experienced German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who holds the EU presidency, is flailing as the French and others insist they will not bow to authoritarian diktats.

This dispute, plus ongoing tensions over the cost of an expanded budget now UK contributions are ending, prompted an intriguing intervention last week from António Costa, the Portuguese prime minister. Portugal assumes the EU presidency next month, and is staring aghast at the can of worms it’s inheriting. Costa’s proposal was suitably radical: effectively split the EU in two, and thus save it, by recognising irreconcilable internal differences. This variation on the old idea of a two-speed or two-tier Europe would be based not on geography but on values, Costa suggested. It would separate the so-called “frugal” states – the Netherlands, Austria and Nordic countries concerned about high spending and fiscal transfers – plus east European states opposed to rule of law mechanisms and migrant quotas – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – from the remainder.

“Basically, it is whether the EU is a union of values or whether, on the contrary, it is primarily an economic instrument,” Costa argued. Countries opposing further integration would benefit from “variable geometries” while others like France, and southern states such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, could pursue their version of ever closer union. It’s a brave idea that Costa, reportedly with French backing, will pursue at a special spring summit in Lisbon. Yet it has a major flaw. Germany, the EU’s chief paymaster with a current net budget contribution of €12.8bn, gives lip service to EU integration and solidarity. But it has a deeply ingrained horror of underwriting the profligacy and pipe-dreams of indebted fellow eurozone members.

This same German reluctance hinders Emmanuel Macron’s ambitions for a unified “global Europe” to match the US and China: Berlin fears it will end up footing the bill, financially and politically. When France’s president called again last month for a sovereign European defence strategy, Germany’s defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, slapped him down. “The idea of strategic autonomy for Europe goes too far if it nurtures the illusion that we could ensure Europe’s security, stability and prosperity without Nato and the US … Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves without America’s nuclear and conventional power. This is simply a fact,” she said. Macron was furious.

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Not going to happen.

UK Urged To Follow Denmark In Ending North Sea Oil And Gas Exploration (O.)

Britain must end all oil and gas extraction in the North Sea as a matter of urgency if it is to maintain its position as a credible climate champion. That was the stark warning issued by green campaigners yesterday in the wake of last week’s decision by Denmark to halt its exploration for new North Sea reserves as part of its commitment to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change. The Danish decision is an embarrassment for Boris Johnson who announced last week that Britain would take a lead in the battle against global heating by cutting national carbon emissions by 68% by 2030, a rate faster than any other major economy. However, the UK has not announced plans to end exploration in the North Sea for new gas and oil fields or to halt extraction there – despite the established link between global warming and fossil fuel extraction and burning.

By announcing its North Sea ban last week, say campaigners, Denmark has undermined Johnson’s attempt to portray himself as a world climate leader next Saturday when he is scheduled to co-host a virtual Climate Ambition summit of world leaders. “If the UK is to be a real global climate leader, it must follow Denmark’s lead by stopping issuing new oil and gas exploration licences and delivering a managed phase-out of oil and gas extraction,” said Ken Penton, UK climate campaigner for the international NGO, Global Witness. “This must include funding a just transition for oil and gas workers and their communities to ensure they can benefit from the new green economy and do not suffer the fate of UK coal miners and their communities.”

The Danish government voted on Thursday to cancel the country’s next North Sea oil and gas licensing round, 80 years after it first began exploiting its hydrocarbon reserves. Denmark’s 55 existing platforms, spread across 20 oil and gas fields, will be allowed to continue extracting fossil fuels but the decision to end the hunt for new reserves will guarantee an end to Denmark’s fossil fuel production.

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Stephanie Kelton Deficits

 

 

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Nov 272020
 


Max Ernst Santa Conversazione 1921

 

Total COVID19 Cases In US May Be Eight Times Higher Than Reported (F.)
New Study Highlights Alleged Accounting Error Regarding COVID Deaths (AIER)
Want To Make Your Vax More Effective? Add A Shot Of Sputnik V (RT)
5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms (Fed.)
The Most Predictable Election Fraud Backlash Ever (Tracey)
Sidney Powell: Poll Workers Altered Large Numbers Of Michigan Ballots (JTN)
DC’s Corrupted Legislative Process (sundance)
Yanis Varoufakis Calls For Black Friday Boycott Of Amazon (G.)
Poland, Hungary Moving Deeper Into Isolation In EU – Senior EU Diplomat (R.)
Trump Must Pardon Snowden & Assange – Tulsi Gabbard (RT)
Assange Partner In Twitter Appeal For Trump To Issue Pardon (ES)

 

 

Close the schools?

 

 

Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch on Cuomo closing churches

 

 

“..nearly 53 million people in the U.S. had been infected with Covid-19 by the end of September.”

Total COVID19 Cases In US May Be Eight Times Higher Than Reported (F.)

The actual number of Covid-19 infections in the U.S. could be about eight times as much as the total reported cases, a model created by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated. The model published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that nearly 53 million people in the U.S. had been infected with Covid-19 by the end of September. The estimate is around eight times higher than the 7.1 million confirmed cases that had been reported back then. The model tries to account for the fact that most cases of Covid-19 are mild and therefore go unreported. The scientists, however, warned that by the end of September, 84% of the U.S. population had not been infected and was still at risk of catching the disease.


If the trend of unreported cases still holds true as of Thursday, the U.S. — which has 12.5 million confirmed cases — could be approaching 100 million total infections across the country. In October, the World Health Organisation had said that nearly 10% of the world population or nearly 760 million people may have already been infected with Covid-19, despite the fact that only 35 million confirmed cases had been recorded as of that time. “When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, had said back then adding, “But I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of Covid.” Scientists have also suggested that deaths due to the pandemic have also been severely undercounted, with the CDC stating that the U.S. had recorded nearly 300,000 excess deaths during the pandemic as of October 3. This number was nearly 100,000 deaths more than what had been officially recorded by the states.

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“These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.”

New Study Highlights Alleged Accounting Error Regarding Covid Deaths (AIER)

It is already well established that Covid-19 is a disease that is most dangerous to those over the age of 65 and who have preexisting conditions. In the United States, there has been an observed 2.1% mortality rate, with elderly individuals making up over half that number. Young and healthy people are not by any significant capacity threatened by Covid-19. One of the most important factors when it comes to Covid-19 is preventing excess death. According to the CDC, “Estimates of excess deaths can provide information about the burden of mortality potentially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including deaths that are directly or indirectly attributed to COVID-19. Excess deaths are typically defined as the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods.”

Essentially, there is an average number of deaths every year due to a variety of causes that for the most part have remained constant through the years. This includes morbidities such as heart disease, which has long been the leading cause of death, and cancer, which has long plagued our existence. For Covid-19 to be a serious cause of alarm, it would need to significantly increase the number of average deaths. However, according to the study, “These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.” Total deaths in the United States show no significant change and even mirror past trends of seasonal illness.

[..] What is even more interesting if not more alarming is that the spike in recorded Covid-19 deaths seen in 2020 has coincided with a proportional decrease in death from other diseases. Yanni Gu writes “This suggests, according to Briand, that the COVID-19 death toll is misleading. Briand believes that deaths due to heart diseases, respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia may instead be recategorized as being due to COVID-19.” Deaths have remained relatively constant, yet reported deaths due to deadly conditions such as heart disease have fallen while reported Covid deaths have risen. This suggests that the current Covid death count is in some capacity relabeled deaths due to other ailments. According to the graph, reported Covid deaths even overtook heart disease as the main cause of death at one point, which should raise suspicion.

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And why not?

Want To Make Your Vax More Effective? Add A Shot Of Sputnik V (RT)

Responding to the news of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab facing a new set of trials, the developers of the pioneering Russian Sputnik V vaccine have suggested combining the two vaccines to drastically improve AstraZeneca’s efficacy. The idea appeared on the official Twitter page of the Sputnik V vaccine, which is financed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), on Thursday. “We suggest trying a regimen of combining the AZ shot with the #SputnikV human adenoviral vector shot to boost efficacy,” said the message, referring to AstraZeneca’s published trial results.

The offer follows comments from AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot to Bloomberg on Thursday, who admitted the company will have to “do an additional study” before its vaccine is ready, given that its trials have resulted in varying efficacy, depending on the dose. Despite a number of unexplained inconsistencies during the trials, on Monday AstraZeneca said it would seek emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine. With the British-Swedish developer rushing to roll out an inoculation, RT on Wednesday compiled a list of seven questions for AstraZeneca, asking the company to dispel doubts about the safety and efficacy of its jab.

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“Joe Biden achieved the impossible. It’s interesting that many more journalists aren’t pointing that out.”

5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms (Fed.)

In all the excitement among objective journalists for Joe Biden’s declared victory, reporters are missing how extraordinary the Democrat’s performance was in the 2020 election. It’s not just that the former vice president is on track to become the oldest president in American history, it’s what he managed to accomplish at the polls this year. Candidate Joe Biden was so effective at animating voters in 2020 that he received a record number of votes, more than 15 million more than Barack Obama received in his re-election of 2012. Amazingly, he managed to secure victory while also losing in almost every bellwether county across the country. No presidential candidate has been capable of such electoral jujitsu until now. While Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 totals in every urban county in the United States, he outperformed her in the metropolitan areas of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Even more surprising, the former VP put up a record haul of votes, despite Democrats’ general failures in local House and state legislative seats across the nation. He accomplished all this after receiving a record low share of the primary vote compared to his Republican opponent heading into the general election. Clearly, these are tremendous and unexpected achievements that would normally receive sophisticated analysis from the journalist class but have somehow gone mostly unmentioned during the celebrations at news studios in New York City and Washington, D.C. The massive national political realignment now taking place may be one source of these surprising upsets. Yet still, to have pulled so many rabbits out of his hat like this, nobody can deny that Biden is a first-rate campaigner and politician, the likes of which America has never before seen.

[..] 5. Biden Overcame Trump’s Commanding Primary Vote
In the past, primary vote totals have been remarkably accurate in predicting general election winners. Political analyst David Chapman highlighted three historical facts before the election. First, no incumbent who has received 75 percent of the total primary vote has lost re-election. Second, President Trump received 94 percent of the primary vote, which is the fourth highest of all time (higher than Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton, or Obama). In fact, Trump is only one of five incumbents since 1912 to receive more than 90 percent of the primary vote. Third, Trump set a record for most primary votes received by an incumbent when more than 18 million people turned out for him in 2020 (the previous record, held by Bill Clinton, was half that number). For Biden to prevail in the general election, despite Trump’s historic support in the primaries, turns a century’s worth of prior election data on its head. Joe Biden achieved the impossible. It’s interesting that many more journalists aren’t pointing that out.

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“..a desperate woman screaming from a balcony at the top of her lungs, “You just gave us Hitler,” before being escorted out by police.”

The Most Predictable Election Fraud Backlash Ever (Tracey)

Anyone who was remotely sentient during the aftermath of the 2016 election should be the furthest thing from surprised that the frenzy of that period has now been replicated in the aftermath of the 2020 election, albeit with a different partisan and temperamental hue. I attended the official meeting of the Electoral College in Harrisburg, PA — December 2016 — and it was quite a mind-melting experience. Once an uneventful formality that hardly anyone except hardcore obsessives even knew was happening, the actual convening of the Electoral College had become an object of national fascination.

Protesters, egged on by Democratic-affiliated advocacy groups and frenetic social media campaigns, had shown up at the State Capitol to berate Pennsylvania’s Republican electors and demand that they not vote to certify the state’s popular vote outcome for Donald Trump — on the ground that Trump had committed “treason,” and therefore posed such a dire national security threat that centuries of precedent should be summarily thrown out the window in order to block his assumption of office. The precise nature of this alleged “treason” was seldom clarified. It sufficed that they’d been given the impression of some nebulously treasonous activity through a series of Intelligence Community leaks, dutifully laundered as always through the corporate media, which by then was in a hair-on-fire tailspin over Trump’s victory.

The bid to interfere in the Electoral College process that year, and deprive Trump of the presidency through extra-legal means, obviously failed. But it gained enough elite support along the way to be highly notable, especially given how extreme the proposed remedy was (simply ignore popular vote outcomes in various states and block Trump on the basis of CIA rumors.) Top media figures, academics, and activists like Peter Beinart, Larry Lessig, Michael Moore, Paul Krugman, and DeRay McKesson joined the haphazard putsch effort. TV stars like Martin Sheen and Bob Odenkirk recorded impassioned video pleas arguing for electors to subvert the expressed will of voters.

John Podesta, the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman whose Gmail account was reputed to have been successfully “phished” by fearsome Russian “hackers,” issued a statement demanding that electors be granted an unheard-of “intelligence briefing” — with the implication for what should be done with that “briefing” information too obvious to need stating outright. The meeting in Harrisburg concluded with the expected affirmation of Trump’s win — followed by a desperate woman screaming from a balcony at the top of her lungs, “You just gave us Hitler,” before being escorted out by police.

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Wonder what the courts are going to say. The spelling errors don’t make the cases more compelling. But this is not a spelling bee.

Sidney Powell: Poll Workers Altered Large Numbers Of Michigan Ballots (JTN)

Prominent defense attorney Sidney Powell is asking a federal court to block the certification of Michigan’s election results or void the entire election, alleging there was widespread efforts by poll workers in Detroit and elsewhere to falsify, double-count or discard ballots. “Election workers illegally forged, added, removed or otherwise altered information on ballots, the Qualified Voter File and Other Voting Records,” Powell’s lawsuit filed late Wednesday and made public on Thanksgiving Day alleged. The suit named Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the state board of canvassers as defendants, alleging they created an election system on Nov. 3 that enabled widespread fraud and violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“Defendants’ egregious misconduct has included ignoring legislative mandates concerning mail-in ballots– including the mandate that mail-in ballots be post-marked on or before Election Day — and critically, preventing Plaintiff’s poll watchers from observing the receipt, review, opening, and tabulation of mail-in ballots,” the suit said. “It is necessary to order appropriate relief, including, but not limited to, enjoining the certification of the election results pending a full investigation and court hearing, ordering a recount of the election results, or voiding the election and ordering a new election, to remedy the fraud,” Powell wrote in a lawsuit filed late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit and made public on Thanksgiving.

Powell’s lawsuit in Michigan carried some similar claims as one she filed at the same time in Atlanta to challenge Georgia’s results. But in the Michigan case, she offered evidence from a large number of witnesses who alleged in Wayne County and the city of Detroit tens of thousands of voting irregularities were witnessed. She charged that Detroit and Wayne County officials took actions “permitting illegal double voting by persons that had voted by absentee ballot and in person; counting ineligible ballots – and in many cases – multiple times; counting ballots without signatures, or without attempting to match signatures, and ballots without postmarks, pursuant to direct instructions from Defendants.”

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Hardly anybody knows.

DC’s Corrupted Legislative Process (sundance)

CTH often describes the background DC motives with the phrase: “There are Trillions at Stake.” Here we take a look at what that really means, and how DC politics is not quite based on the ideas that frame many reference points. With people taking notice of DC politics for the first time; and with people not as familiar with the purpose of DC politics; we end up within two different references. Perhaps it is valuable to reset the larger frames of reference and provide clarity. Most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a House or Senate representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past. There is not a single person in congress writing legislation or laws.


In modern politics not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen. Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Understand this dynamic and you understand how politicians become multi-millionaires on much lesser salaries; and why ‘We The People’ are insignificant and annoying gnats to their business model. Here’s how it works right now. Outside groups, often called “special interest groups”, are entities that represent their interests in legislative constructs.

These groups are often representing foreign governments, Wall Street multinational corporations, banks, financial groups or businesses; or smaller groups of people with a similar connection who come together and form a larger group under an umbrella of interest specific to their affiliation. Sometimes the groups are social interest groups; activists, climate groups, environmental interests etc. The social interest groups are usually non-profit constructs who depend on the expenditures of government to sustain their cause or need. The for-profit groups (mostly business) have a purpose in Washington DC to shape policy, legislation and laws favorable to their interests. They have fully staffed offices just like any business would – only their ‘business‘ is getting legislation for their unique interests. These groups are filled with highly-paid lawyers who represent the interests of the entity and actually write laws and legislation briefs.

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Bezos just grins.

Yanis Varoufakis Calls For Black Friday Boycott Of Amazon (G.)

The economist Yanis Varoufakis has called for a one-day boycott of Amazon on Black Friday as trade unionists, environmental activists, privacy campaigners and tax justice advocates plan coordinated actions against the company’s sites and supply chain. Amazon’s success during the coronavirus pandemic – at one point the company was reported to be making sales of $11,000 (£8,200) a second – has vastly inflated its share price, increasing the personal wealth of its chief executive, Jeff Bezos, already the world’s richest man, by $70bn. Bloomberg estimates his current wealth to be $187bn. In an online video, Varoufakis asks viewers “not even to visit” Amazon’s website on Black Friday – the retail industry’s most profitable day of the year – which falls on 27 November this year.


“By boycotting Amazon you will be adding your strength to an international coalition of workers and activists,” he said. “Amazon is not a mere company. It is not merely a monopolistic mega-firm. It is far more, and far worse, than that. It is the pillar of a new techno-feudalism.” Under a banner of “make Amazon pay”, Friday’s actions are intended as the start of a campaign against the retailer’s record on workers’ rights, environmental impact, tax avoidance, work with police and immigration authorities, and what activists say are invasions of privacy via its growing range of internet-connected devices. The campaign is co-convened by Progressive International, a global initiative bringing together progressive leftwing groups, politicians and intellectuals, including Varoufakis, Prof Noam Chomsky and Bernie Sanders, and UNI Global, a trade union federation representing 20 million workers including the UK’s GMB union.

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Their voices don’t count.

Poland, Hungary Moving Deeper Into Isolation In EU – Senior EU Diplomat (R.)

Poland and Hungary are moving deeper into isolation in the 27-nation European Union by blocking the EU’s 2021-2027 budget and recovery fund needed to pull the EU out of a recession caused by the COVIOD-19 pandemic, a senior EU diplomat said on Thursday. Warsaw and Budapest have vetoed the bloc’s 1.8 trillion euro financial package for 2021-2027 because it links access to the money with an obligation to respect the rule of law. Both capitals are under EU investigation for not respecting it. Earlier on Thursday, Polish and Hungarian prime ministers jointly repeated their objection to the rule of law condition, digging in their heels as the bloc seeks to unwind the deadlock. “It is clear that there is absolutely no support for reopening the conditionality mechanism in the European Parliament or in the Council,” the senior diplomat said. “With their statement Poland and Hungary are moving deeper and deeper into isolation,” the diplomat said.

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“..please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state..”

Trump Must Pardon Snowden & Assange – Tulsi Gabbard (RT)

Outgoing Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has urged President Donald Trump to issue pardons for Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, echoing growing calls to absolve whistleblowers who helped to “expose” the US “deep state.” “Since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state,” Gabbard said in a tweet addressed to the president on Thursday, referring to Snowden and Assange. The request comes less than a day after Trump granted a pardon for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. His case became a central plank in the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative after he was accused of misleading investigators about contacts with a Russian diplomat following Trump’s election win in 2016.

While the Justice Department moved to have the case thrown out, citing misconduct in the FBI’s probe, a federal judge resisted that effort, prompting the president to intervene on Wednesday. Gabbard, who’s set to leave office at the end of her congressional term, previously introduced a resolution alongside GOP lawmaker Matt Gaetz (Florida) urging the government to drop its charges against Snowden – who was indicted under the World War I-era Espionage Act for his role in leaking classified material revealing illegal mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). Though the antiquated law was originally intended to prosecute foreign spies, it has been repeatedly wielded against journalists and whistleblowers.

Snowden himself weighed in later on Thursday, saying he had “seen more calls for pardon this year than in all others combined.” No other issue in our time unites left, right, and center like the struggle to end governments’ abuse of mass surveillance and secrecy. The Libertarian Party echoed the message, noting that Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie has publicly backed the pardons as well, while journalist Glenn Greenwald argued that nothing would “shape Trump’s legacy” better than a reprieve for the two whistleblowers. Snowden approached Greenwald after making off with a massive trove of classified documents in 2013 while working as an NSA subcontractor under Booz Allen Hamilton. Fearing prosecution, he fled the US, hoping to secure asylum in Latin America, but was stranded in Russia after his passport was revoked by US authorities. He has remained there since, where he has been granted permanent residency status after seven years in legal limbo.

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A cousin of Assange was just freed in Iran. What Australia did for her, they should also do for Juliann.

Assange Partner In Twitter Appeal For Trump To Issue Pardon (ES)

Julian Assange’s partner has appealed to US President Donald Trump to pardon him. Stella Moris used Thanksgiving Day to issue a plea to the president after he pardoned ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn. Ms Moris made a personal plea to Mr Trump through Twitter, saying it was the only channel he seems to value. Including a picture of her and Mr Assange’s two children, she tweeted: “These are Julian’s sons Max and Gabriel. They need their father. Our family needs to be whole again. I beg you, please bring him home for Christmas.” She also said that Mr Assange was a cousin of Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer at Melbourne University who was reportedly released from an Iranian jail yesterday following two years in detention.


On Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release, she said: “Like Julian, Kylie was charged in a bogus espionage case. She was tried in secret and convicted to 10 years. She spent two years in Iran’s most notorious prisons. There has barely been news about her case, other than letters smuggled from prison. “Julian has petitioned Iran’s leaders to release her earlier this year. I told Julian the news over the phone. He wants to express his gratitude to Australian and UK diplomats for securing her freedom.” She that said that 49 inmates and 15 staff on his wing at Belmarsh prison in London had now tested positive for coronavirus, while he has tested negative. Mr Assange is reportedly been let out of quarantine since the outbreak, along with others who have tested negative. A Prison Service spokesman said: “We’ve introduced further safety measures following a number of positive cases.”

Read more …

 

 

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JFK

 

 

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Nov 262020
 
 November 26, 2020  Posted by at 10:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  17 Responses »


JMW Turner Lake Llanberis and Snowdon Color Study c.1800

 

Pa. Commonwealth Court Orders Halt To Certification Process (PG)
Sidney Powell Sues Georgia Officials: ‘Massive Scheme To Rig Election’ (JTN)
Giuliani, Trump Pull Off ‘One Hell Of A Hearing’ On PA Election Fraud (ZH)
Trump Pardons Ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (JTN)
Supreme Court Strikes Down Cuomo’s COVID Restrictions On Religious Services
Should COVID19 Vaccines Be Mandatory? (Conv.)
Cuba Could be on the Brink of a Revolutionary COVID Vaccine (MPN)
WHO Names Line-up For International Team Looking Into Coronavirus Origins (SCMP)
EU Parliament Votes Against Referring to Julian Assange in Rights Report (Sp.)

 

 


If the same percentage of votes were rejected as in 2016, Trump would win

 

 

A man does not yield when the mere universe has turned against him; he yields when his own heart has turned against him. We surrender, not when circumstances are miserable, but when we are miserable.

– G. K. Chesterton

 

 

Let the chips fall where they may.

Pa. Commonwealth Court Orders Halt To Certification Process (PG)

Pennsylvania is prohibited from certifying the rest of its election results in down ballot races — and from taking any further action in regards to yesterday’s certification of the presidential race — pending a hearing on Friday in an appellate court, or intervention by the state Supreme Court. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, in an order signed by Judge Patricia McCullough, issued an injunction Wednesday that stops the state from continuing its certification, and intends to hear evidence in a case filed by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly and GOP congressional candidate Sean Parnell about the constitutionality of mail-in ballots. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, Gov. Tom Wolf and the state — named as defendants in the suit — appealed the Commonwealth Court order to the state Supreme Court.

As it stands now, the hearing in Commonwealth Court is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday. The state certified the results in the race for president on Tuesday, giving its 20 electoral votes to Democrat Joe Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris. The court order said the state is prohibited from acting “to the extent that there remains any further action to perfect the certification of the results” of the races for president and vice president. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote on Twitter that the order “does not impact yesterday’s appointment of electors.” In their suit, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Parnell are arguing that state lawmakers violated Pennsylvania’s Constitution by adopting Act 77 last year, which expanded the mail-in balloting option to let all qualified voters to vote by mail without an excuse.

They allege that absentee voting — which required an excuse from a set of allowed reasons — was rebranded as no-excuse mail-in voting “absent any constitutional authority.” The Republican-controlled state Legislature responded, in legal filings, that the case should be dismissed because Act 77 didn’t alter the requirements of who constitutes a qualified voter, and that the Legislature is constitutionally authorized to prescribe the method by which those electors may cast their votes.

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And now you need evidence.

Sidney Powell Sues Georgia Officials: ‘Massive Scheme To Rig Election’ (JTN)

Prominent defense attorney Sidney Powell sued Georgia’s top officials late Wednesday, alleging in federal court that the GOP-run state government permitted a massive voter fraud scheme that rigged the Nov. 3 election in favor of Democrat Joe Biden. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on behalf of several Georgia residents, electors and Republican Party officials and named Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and state election board members as defendants. The 104-page complaint asked the court to issue an injunction “prohibiting the Governor and Secretary of State from transmitting the currently certified results to the Electoral College based on the overwhelming evidence of election tampering.”

“The fraud was executed by many means, but the most fundamentally troubling, insidious, and egregious is the systemic adaptation of old-fashioned ‘ballot-stuffing,'” Powell’s suit alleged. “It has now been amplified and rendered virtually invisible by computer software created and run by domestic and foreign actors for that very purpose. Mathematical and statistical anomalies rising to the level of impossibilities, as shown by affidavits of multiple witnesses, documentation, and expert testimony evince this scheme across the state of Georgia. “This scheme and artifice to defraud affected tens of thousands of votes in Georgia alone and ‘rigged’ the election in Georgia for Joe Biden,” the suit added.

Powell’s suit made a variety of allegations, including that:

• At least 96,600 absentee ballots were requested and counted but were never recorded as being returned to county election boards by the voter. “Thus, at a minimum, 96,600 votes must be disregarded,” the suit said.
• Kemp and Raffensperger “rushed through the purchase of Dominion voting machines and software in 2019 for the 2020 Presidential Election” without due diligence and disregarded safety concerns.
• “There is incontrovertible physical evidence that the standards of physical security of the voting machines and the software were breached, and machines were connected to the internet in violation of professional standards and state and federal laws.”
• Fulton County election workers used a claim of a water leak to evacuate poll watchers and workers for several hours on Election night, even as “several election workers remained unsupervised and unchallenged working at the computers for the voting tabulation machines until after 1:00 AM.
• State officials in a settlement with Democratic parties made changes to election procedures that violated both state law and the U.S. Constitution.

Strenstrom Missing USB cards
https://twitter.com/i/status/1331678008210464768

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Quite the video footage.

Giuliani, Trump Pull Off ‘One Hell Of A Hearing’ On PA Election Fraud (ZH)

Upon the request of Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano (R), the state’s Senate Majority Policy Committee is holding a public hearing to discuss election issues and irregularities at 12:30 ET. Former NYC Mayor and current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani will appear. President Trump was slated to join him, only to cancel following adviser Boris Epshteyn’s Covid-19 diagnosis.

[..] President Trump joined the PA hearing by phone and was immediately on the offense, saying that “this is an election we won easily. We won it by a lot. This election has to be turned around.” “What we saw on November 3rd was not the United States of America. Democrats cheated. It was a fraudulent election. It would be very easy for me to wait 4 years and try again. We can’t wait for 4 years. Don’t be intimidated by these people. They don’t love our country!” “They kept poll watchers in pens in Philadelphia and then they threw them out of the building. You couldn’t see a thing on those cameras. They could have been playing a baseball game.”

“It’s a disgrace this is happening to our country. We got 11 million more votes than we did 4 years ago. At 10pm in the evening we were way ahead. Everybody knows we won it. The whole world is watching us. We can’t let them get away with this. We have more votes than voters!” Trump ends his remarks by telling Giuliani over speakerphone: “This is going to be your crowning achievement because you’re saving our country.”

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Pardoned against his will. But the court case would never have finished, so he’s relieved all the same.

Trump Pardons Ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (JTN)

President Trump on Wednesday fully pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, bringing to end a tumultuous four-year criminal case that felled the three-star general before prosecutors reversed course and declared they had improperly pursued his prosecution. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about talking with a Russian diplomat during the 2016 Trump administration transition period. Attorney General William Barr earlier this year asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., to allow the Justice Department to drop the case. However, the matter has since been tied up in legal proceedings.

Trump informed the general and his lawyer Sidney Powell of the decision Wednesday afternoon, ahead of Thanksgiving Day. Flynn was elated by the news and the two men talked “like they had never missed a day since the campaign or early White House days,” an eyewitness told Just the News. Trump announced the news on his Twitter page. “It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn, and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!” he tweeted. Sidney Powell, the defense lawyer who doggedly sought to prove Flynn’s innocence post conviction, applauded the decision, suggesting it was necessary because the U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan had refused to dismiss the lying charge, even after DOJ pleaded it be done.

“The pardon of Michael Flynn is solely up to the President, but given the corruption we have witnessed in the judiciary and multiple agencies of government executed against General Flynn, this persecution should end,” she said. “The FBI and DOJ have been a national embarrassment for more than 15 years. It was my fervent hope to make our judicial system work to exonerate an innocent man–as all the Left would want were he anyone but Trump or Michael Flynn, but enough is enough. This is sick. It’s painfully obvious Judge Sullivan is playing an evil political game with a good man’s life and family. The entire country deserves better.”

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“But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”

Supreme Court Strikes Down Cuomo’s COVID Restrictions On Religious Services

The Supreme Court late Wednesday struck down New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings, as new Justice Amy Coney Barrett cast one of her first high-impact votes and Chief Justice John Roberts sided in dissent with the court’s liberal bloc. In a 5-4 decision, the court said Cuomo’s restrictions violated the Constitution’s First Amendment right to freedom of worship and granted an injunction barring the rules from being enforced. “Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area,” the majority opinion said. “But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”


Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a separate opinion siding with the conservative majority, saying churches and synagogues were treated differently than commercial institutions by the state. “It is time — past time — to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques,” Gorsuch argued. Roberts’ dissenting opinion accused the court of acting irrationally and disregarding the public health expertise of the state. “It is a significant matter to override determinations made by public health officials concerning what is necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly pandemic,” he wrote.

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A for vs against discussion. Here’s the against part.

Should COVID19 Vaccines Be Mandatory? (Conv.)

Mandatory vaccination does not automatically increase vaccine uptake. An EU-funded project on epidemics and pandemics, which took place several years before COVID-19, found no evidence to support this notion. Looking at Baltic and Scandinavian countries, the project’s report noted that countries “where a vaccination is mandatory do not usually reach better coverage than neighbour or similar countries where there is no legal obligation”. According to the Nuffield Council of Bioethics, mandatory vaccination may be justified for highly contagious and serious diseases. But although contagious, Public Health England does not classify COVID-19 as a high-consequence infectious disease due to its relatively low case fatality rate.

COVID-19 severity is strongly linked with age, dividing individual perceptions of vulnerability within populations. The death rate is estimated at 7.8% in people aged over 80, but at just 0.0016% in children aged nine and under. In a liberal democracy, forcing the vaccination of millions of young and healthy citizens who perceive themselves to be at an acceptably low risk from COVID-19 will be ethically disputed and is politically risky. Public apprehensions for a novel vaccine produced at breakneck speed are wholly legitimate. A UK survey of 70,000 people found 49% were “very likely” to get a COVID-19 vaccine once available. US surveys are similar. This is not because the majority are anti-vaxxers.

Despite promising headlines, the trials and pharmaceutical processes surrounding them have not yet been scrutinised. With the first trials only beginning in April, there is limited data on long-term safety and efficacy. We don’t know how long immunity lasts for. None of the trials were designed to tell us if the vaccine prevents serious disease or virus transmission. To disregard these ubiquitous concerns would be counterproductive. As a tool for combating anti-vaxxers – estimated at around 58 million globally and making up a small minority of those not getting vaccinated – mandatory vaccines are also problematic. The forces driving scientific and political populism are the same. Anti-vaxxers do not trust experts, industry and especially not the government. A government mandate will not just be met with unshakeable defiance, but will also be weaponised to recruit others to the anti-vaxxer cause.

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“Cuban immunization developments are being seriously hamstrung by the actions of the U.S. government, primarily due to the decades-long blockade on the island..”

Cuba Could be on the Brink of a Revolutionary COVID Vaccine (MPN)

Cuba has announced positive and promising results for a number of separate COVID-19 vaccines it is currently developing, but U.S. sanctions against the small island nation are hampering the development and rollout of the potentially life-saving treatments. Two candidates, named Sovereign 1 and Sovereign 2, have generated antibodies blocking infection in animals and are showing similarly encouraging signs on tests on human subjects. Meanwhile, a separate vaccine, based on a protein from the hepatitis B virus, is unique in that it is delivered through the nasal tract and does not require a needle to administer.

Should any of these efforts ultimately succeed, the Caribbean nation — already a medical powerhouse that has developed a lung cancer vaccine and methods to stop mother-to-baby HIV and syphilis transmission— will likely become an important supplier to other Latin American and developing countries who have been effectively shut out from purchasing COVID vaccines from Western companies, as rich nations have already begun hoarding coronavirus medicines. Dr. Helen Yaffe of Glasgow University, author of “We Are Cuba!: How a Revolutionary People Have Survived in a Post-Soviet World,” was impressed and heartened by the news, telling MintPress:

“Cuba now has four COVID-specific vaccine candidates under clinical trial. The fact that a small Caribbean island can achieve such a remarkable feat is testimony to its state-owned biotech sector, which is directed towards public health demands and integrated into its healthcare and education systems. After years of being told that only the market can lead to efficiency and innovation, Cuba’s socialist planned economy demonstrates what is possible when there is political will, good coordination, organization and the priority of social welfare.”

However, Cuban immunization developments are being seriously hamstrung by the actions of the U.S. government, primarily due to the decades-long blockade on the island, something which the Cuban government estimates has cost it over 750 billion U.S. dollars. As Reuters reported, cash-strapped Cuba cannot afford to buy the raw materials necessary to upscale its vaccine development to help other countries. Hospitals face huge obstacles importing lifesaving equipment from abroad due to the blockade, while the sanctions force the country, which imports the large majority of its staples, to spend far more on food than other nations. As a result, almost one third of young children suffer from anemia due to the monotonous and sub-par nutrition available, according to the World Food Program.

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The WHO continues to play a debatable role.

WHO Names Line-up For International Team Looking Into Coronavirus Origins (SCMP)

The World Health Organization has named the scientists on an international team tracing the origins of the new coronavirus, as their mission gathers steam some 11 months after the virus was identified. The 10-person team includes public health experts, animal health specialists and virus hunters from Japan, Qatar, Germany, Vietnam, Russia, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States. They will work alongside Chinese scientists on a set of investigations into how the virus that causes Covid-19 emerged and spilled over into humans, triggering a pandemic that has now claimed over 1.4 million lives.

The WHO on Monday said the names of the international team members had been shared with member states and released online, despite concerns about harassment given that the virus origins have become a highly contentious subject. “There has been a level of attack and abuse to people involved in international science. It is not an easy space to be in right now and let me be plain about that,” said Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. He pointed to hate mail and threats within a climate of “anti-science movements” and “ideologic politics”. “We would like to thank them for their openness and transparency and for allowing us to release their names. That’s not an easy choice,” he said at a news briefing.

[..] One hanging question is when the international team will join field studies on the ground in China, considered a critical part of the mission, which was called for by over 130 nations at a May meeting of the WHO’s governing body.
Ryan on Monday said they “fully expect” the international team will be on the ground for this work, and they would like the scientists to be “deployed as soon as possible”. “We have reassurances from our Chinese government colleagues that … a field part of the mission will be facilitated as soon as possible, in order that the international community can be reassured of the quality of the science,” he said.

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Cowards.

EU Parliament Votes Against Referring to Julian Assange in Rights Report (Sp.)

Any mention of the prosecution of Julian Assange has been removed from the EU’s latest report on fundamental rights, despite the best efforts of MEPs such as Ireland’s Clare Daly. The European Parliament passed the final version of the fundamental rights report for 2018 – 2019 on 25 November, excluding any mention of imprisoned publisher and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. An amendment to include reference to Mr Assange lost with 408 votes against its inclusion, 191 votes in favour and 93 abstentions. Chris Williamson, a former Labour MP and long-time supporter of Mr Assange, lamented the final vote, saying:

“This is a sad day for European democracy, freedom of speech and human rights. The European Parliament has failed to live up to its rhetoric about standing for fundamental rights. It has shown itself to be nothing more than a paper tiger that is content with being the US administration’s poodle”. The original draft of the fundamental rights report contained a passage saying that “the detention and criminal prosecution of Julian Assange sets a dangerous precedent for journalists as affirmed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe” But, according to Irish MEP Clare Daly, a committee of European parliamentarians made up of the European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Renew Europe party voted to remove the passage from the report, on 23 November.

The Left group of MEPs (European United Left/Nordic Green Left) and Ms Daly, who was actually in charge of preparing the original draft report, lobbied heavily for the passage to be returned into the final draft. In a video published on 23 November, Ms Daly called upon EU citizens to contact their MEPs and push them to reinsert the paragraph mentioning Mr Assange, via Amendment 44, in their final vote. “I believe that no report on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union could possibly be taken seriously if it fails to mention the Trump administration’s radical and dangerous prosecution of a journalist for important journalism that was carried out in the European Union”, Ms Daley said in her message.

Read more …

 

 

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Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Maradona

 

 

 

 

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Aug 222020
 
 August 22, 2020  Posted by at 10:07 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


Steve Schapiro Robert Kennedy US Presidential Campaign 1968

 

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be Over Within Two Years – WHO (BBC)
Dr. Birx: November In-Person Voting As Easy As Going To Starbucks (JTN)
Where’s Tulsi? (RT)
This Year’s DNC Was 2016’s DNC on Steroids (Savage)
The Truth About The Post Office Controversy (Patel)
Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda (Ray McGovern )
Fighting Russia Has Become An Existential Necessity For NATO – Lavrov (RT)
AG Barr Throws Cold Water On Possible Edward Snowden Pardon (ZH)
What A Nation Cut Off From The Rest Of The World Looks Like (Saxo)
Alan Rusbridger: Assange Case Is Worrying For All Journalists (PG)

 

 

Passing 800,000 deaths globally is a sad milestone again, but US new cases had their best week since the end of June, so that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postmaster

 

 

Not sure every single person will see this as a reassuring message.

Amazing how little the man has to say who pretends to aid the entire world. When PPE corruption is one of your main talking points…

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Be Over Within Two Years – WHO (BBC)

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over in under two years. Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Spanish flu of 1918 took two years to overcome. But he added that current advances in technology could enable the world to halt the virus “in a shorter time”. “Of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading,” he said. “But at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it,” he noted, stressing the importance of “national unity, global solidarity”.


The deadly flu of 1918 killed at least 50 million people. The coronavirus has so far killed almost 800,000 people and infected 22.7 million more. Dr Tedros also responded to a question about corruption relating to personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, which he described as “criminal”. “Any type of corruption is unacceptable,” he answered. “However, corruption related to PPE… for me it’s actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.”

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Well she actually said “If you go into Starbucks in the middle of Texas and Alabama and Mississippi that have very high case rates..” But then, in states with lower case rates it should be even safer…

Dr. Birx: November In-Person Voting As Easy As Going To Starbucks (JTN)

The doctor coordinating the White House Coronavirus Task Force says she believes it will be safe for voters to go to the polls in November. “Well, I can tell you it has been safe for me to go to Starbucks and pick up my order,” Dr. Deborah Birx told Just The News in an interview when asked about in-person voting. Birx has been traveling the country by car and one of her practices is to visit as many Starbucks as she can in an attempt to gauge whether people are wearing masks and socially distancing. She said her coffee experiences in states that have higher than normal COVID-19 cases, has led her to a conclusion about voting. “If you go into Starbucks in the middle of Texas and Alabama and Mississippi that have very high case rates, then I can’t say that it would be different waiting in line in the polls,” Birx said.

Of course, she cautions that masks must be worn and social distancing must be adhered to. “I know there’s a way but you really do have to pay attention,” she added. Birx spoke Friday afternoon at the White House on a myriad of topics. While much of the discussion centered on vaccines and a potential timetable for a return to normal, she also revealed something personal: she’s been a victim of harassment and threats via technology. “I do get death threats, and I get text messages that are horrific,” she said. “I get stuff sent to my home where my daughters are that is shocking and their phones get shocking messages. All of that has been happening since March.”

In a way, Birx has a thankless job as she tries to navigate not just the reality of a deadly virus but the political realities as well. Most of the criticism has come from liberal Democrats who have criticized her for not doing enough to set the record straight on some of the president’s medical claims. Birx, who has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades, said she will soldier on. “You just have to stay true to your own personal values,” she said. “I’ve never been asked to cross that line. I believe when people look back that they’ll find out that I personally never crossed that line.”

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The Tulsi treatment is the state of the DNC in a nutshell. Cancel culture at its finest, advertized as unity. And Bernie, AOC, Tulsi swallow it all.

Where’s Tulsi? (RT)

This week’s Democratic virtual gathering to nominate the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket for the November election was a triumph of party centrism over the progressive wing. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was given a whopping 90 seconds to nominate Bernie Sanders in a technical procedure, and no members of her ‘squad’ were given the stage. Instead, a parade of speakers from both parties told Americans that replacing Donald Trump with Biden was the single most important task at hand. One other party outsider was noticeably absent at the convention. Tulsi Gabbard, the representative for Hawaii, was snubbed despite remaining in the primary race right until Biden’s imminent victory and winning two delegates.

In those metrics, she performed better than VP nominee Harris herself. Yet Gabbard “was not invited to participate in any way”, she confirmed on Twitter. Frankly speaking, she would have been welcomed at the convention about as gladly as evil witch Maleficent at the birthday party of Sleeping Beauty. Once considered a rising political star and given the same duty to nominate Sanders in 2016 as AOC this year, Gabbard has become a pariah in her own party over the past two years. Apparently, the Democratic leadership would rather give a platform to someone who helped lie the country into the 2003 Iraq invasion than to a woman who calls for an end to forever wars, some commenters noted. During the campaign, Gabbard stepped on quite a few toes. Going after Harris’s prosecutorial record was arguably the moment the California senator’s bid for presidency went sideways.

Guest of honor Pete Buttigieg, described by Biden as the future of the party, would probably not appreciate her either. After all, after he brought up her infamous trip to Syria during a debate, Gabbard gave him a lecture on the importance of talking to your adversaries. [..] The redbait smearing of Gabbard began early in her campaign. In February 2019, NBC declared her a “Russian favorite” based on the opinion of New Knowledge, the shady firm best known for fabricating a ‘Russian influence campaign’ during the 2017 Senate special election in Alabama. In October, the same attack was launched from the very top of the party establishment, as Hillary Clinton claimed the Kremlin was “grooming” Gabbard to run as a third-party candidate.

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1296591920538550273

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“As the country’s social fabric is torn apart by evictions, record unemployment, and mass death, they decided to hold a virtual prayer circle for Republican senator John McCain.”

This Year’s DNC Was 2016’s DNC on Steroids (Savage)

Save a few protests from frustrated Sanders delegates, the convention was a pristine spectacle of celebrity-driven, limousine liberalism at its most cartoonish and out of touch. No one expected a politician like Clinton to remake herself as a populist figure. But the four-day elite love-in — hosted, no less, at a convention center bearing the name of one of the world’s biggest banks — was so dripping with Ivy League pretension and Hollywood glam that it looked more like an awards show than a democratic appeal to the citizens of a republic. November was still three, potentially perilous months away, and — despite a year of unexpected populist insurgencies from both the Left and right — Democrats were already measuring the drapes for an indefinite future residency in the White House.

When November finally did come, their complacency would be punished with the single greatest political upset in modern history. In more ways than one, this year’s DNC evoked an ominous feeling of deja vu. True enough, the context is very different. This time, Donald Trump is the incumbent president and America is in the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Contra Clinton, the party’s nominee was merely the final centrist standing among what was this time a vast field of candidates rallying to neutralize Sanders — and, unlike its last standard-bearer, he was more the establishment’s measure of last resort than its first choice.

Notwithstanding these differences, the parallels between this week’s convention and the gilded spectacular of 2016 are difficult to overlook. Yet again, Democrats are headed into a consequential election with a Wall Street–friendly ticket raking in millions from financial concerns and doing its utmost to signal it has minimal interest in honoring key campaign pledges.

As in 2016, party leaders feel they can openly flaunt their contempt for a progressive left that has nowhere else to go while putting their chips on anti-Trump Republicans and conservative suburbanites (to that end, John Kasich and Colin Powell were featured prominently on the schedule while the Democrats’ brightest star got just over one minute).

With the state of the country inarguably worse than it was in 2016, this formula somehow looks even more out of touch than it did four years ago. During a moment of national reckoning with racism and police violence following the brutal murder of George Floyd, Democrats opted to give the architect of stop-and-frisk a prime-time speaking slot. As the country’s social fabric is torn apart by evictions, record unemployment, and mass death, they decided to hold a virtual prayer circle for Republican senator John McCain. Despite giving a speech that exceeded most expectations, their tribune is a candidate whose ability to win is privately doubted even by the people who proved most critical to his nomination.

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“With universal mail-in voting, the government would mail ballots to everyone, regardless of whether they request them.”

The Truth About The Post Office Controversy (Patel)

Do we really have to worry about the Postal Service? That’s the latest faux controversy to dominate our political debate. It’s a sign of our times that even the mail system isn’t without controversy. As usual, there’s plenty of blame to go around on how we got into this mess. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reasonable to presume we need more absentee voting. Packing voters into overcrowded indoor polling places with long lines is not a good idea. Our government and politicians of all stripes have a duty to promote free and fair elections whether in person or absentee. That shouldn’t be a controversial idea. At the same time, there are legitimate concerns about universal mail-in voting.

Absentee voting is different. With absentee voting, a specific voter requests his or her specific ballot to vote by mail. That system has been used for years and — especially in the states doing it best — it works pretty well. Universal mail-in voting is different. With universal mail-in voting, the government would mail ballots to everyone, regardless of whether they request them. Some places even allow for “ballot harvesting,” where a third party can collect ballots for many people and file them in bulk. This system has not traditionally been used widely, and it raises legitimate concerns over voter fraud. A 2018 North Carolina congressional election was in fact overturned after a state probe found that a Republican operative illegally collected ballots with forged signatures and filled in votes.

The Postal Service controversy falls in the midst of the very legitimate debate. We should all be able to agree that to the extent mail-in voting is used — the absentee variety would be my preference — the Postal Service has to be able to handle its role to ensure a fair election in a reasonable time frame. The Postal Service — which is supposed to operate independently based on funding from the postal fees it charges — has been losing money for years. Due to email and other forms of communication, we send about 30% fewer letters each year than we did just a decade ago. To combat this, the Postal Service has been reducing its operating costs. That all makes sense. Now comes the controversy part. There are three drivers contributing to it. Two are self-inflected by the Republicans, and one — likely the biggest — is being driven pretty disingenuously by the Democrats.

First, it would have made sense to pause some Postal Service operating cuts as it became more and more clear after COVID-19 that we were going to rely more on the mail this election cycle than in any other. Taking mail sorting machines out of service and cutting back on mailboxes that are less used may not be the best moves when you know the mail will be crucial for a national election. A pause in operating cuts makes sense in case the equipment is needed for real, substantive reasons — to ensure a fair and timely election — and also to induce confidence among the American people that our sacred right to vote will not be abridged due to the pandemic. This is exactly the justification the Postal Service provided this week when they finally announced such a pause. It was, of course, too late to stem the controversy.

Second, as is the case with so many controversies of this era, President Donald Trump did not do himself any favors with his comments on the matter. Trump said he opposed more money for the Postal Service because without that money, “You can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.” The president is not wrong to question universal mail-in voting, but his statement that he was going to unilaterally in effect stop it through a holdup of postal funds only added fire to Democrats’ claims that he was against taking steps to have a fair election during the pandemic.

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Read of the day. Excellent. Where it all comes together.

Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda (Ray McGovern )

The Best Defense… is a good offense, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of its study — call it “Mueller (Enhanced)” — and the propaganda fanfare — come at a key point in the Russiagate/Spygate imbroglio. It also came, curiously, as the Democratic Convention was beginning, as if the Republican-controlled Senate was sending Trump a message. One chief worry, of course, derives from the uncertainty as to whether John Durham, the US Attorney investigating those FBI and other officials who launched the Trump-Russia investigation will let some heavy shoes drop before the election. Barr has said he expects “developments in Durham’s investigation hopefully before the end of the summer.”

FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith already has decided to plead guilty to the felony of falsifying evidence used to support a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveillance to spy on Trump associate Carter Page. It is abundantly clear that Clinesmith was just a small cog in the deep-state machine in action against candidate and then President Trump. And those running the machine are well known. The president has named names, and Barr has made no bones about his disdain for what he calls spying on the president. The cognoscenti and the big fish themselves may be guessing that Trump/Barr/Durham will not throw out heavier lines for former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for example.

But how can they be sure? What has become clear is that the certainty they all shared that Hillary Clinton would be the next president prompted them not only to take serious liberties with the Constitution and the law, but also to do so without taking rudimentary steps to hide their tracks. The incriminating evidence is there. And as Trump becomes more and more vulnerable and defensive about his ineptness — particularly with regard to Covid-19 — he may summon the courage to order Barr and Durham to hook the big fish, not just minnows like Clinesmith. The neuralgic reality is that no one knows at this point how far Trump will go. To say that this kind of uncertainty is unsettling to all concerned is to say the obvious.

So, the stakes are high — for the Democrats, as well — and, not least, the LSM. In these circumstances it would seem imperative not just to circle the wagons but to mount the best offense/defense possible, despite the fact that virtually all the ammunition (as in the Senate report) is familiar and stale (“enhanced” or not). Black eyes might well be in store for the very top former law enforcement and intelligence officials, the Democrats, and the LSM — and in the key pre-election period. So, the calculation: launch “Mueller Report (Enhanced)” and catapult the truth now with propaganda, before it is too late.

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NATO is not capable of fighting Russia. But it can wage a one-sided domestic disinformation war.

Fighting Russia Has Become An Existential Necessity For NATO – Lavrov (RT)

Confrontation with Russia has become the sole reason for NATO’s existence, and this encourages instability in Europe, creating artificial dividing lines on the continent. That’s according to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The veteran diplomat told the Moscow daily Trud that everyone knows there are no real threats to security in Europe but that NATO needs to invent them in order to keep itself relevant. Lavrov also drew attention to the fact that Russia has repeatedly proposed measures to reduce tensions and reduce the risk of incidents on the continent. “Now, just like during the Cold War, fighting Russia on all fronts, including information and propaganda, has become the alliance’s reason for existence,” he explained.

“NATO has deployed extensive resources on the eastern flank, near our borders, including conducting exercises and improving military infrastructure.” “The alliance continues to expand its area of military and political influence, inviting all new countries under its ‘umbrella’ under the pretext of protecting them from Russia,” he added. Lavrov further explained that the alliance adheres to the line of “containment and dialogue” in relations with Russia, although “as a result, there is practically no place for a real and open dialogue on pressing problems.” In the same interview, the foreign minister accused Ukrainian authorities of not hiding their desire to use the conflict in the Donbass to preserve European Union sanctions pressure on Russia, by not fulfilling their obligations under the Minsk Agreements.

According to him, Kiev takes advantage of the fact that the EU continues to link the issue of improving relations between the bloc and Russia with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which Russia is not a party. “Alas, this artificial and short-sighted link persists to this day – to the great satisfaction of the Kiev authorities, which not only do not fulfill their obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures, but also make no secret of their desire to use the unresolved conflict to maintain sanctions pressure against Russia,” Lavrov said.

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If Barr continues to fiddle on the Durham report, Trump may do it anyway.

AG Barr Throws Cold Water On Possible Edward Snowden Pardon (ZH)

Once again President Trump’s anti-establishment and ‘anti-deep state’ instincts look like they’ll be promptly reigned in by those around him. He shocked leaders in Congress and within his own administration when one week ago he mused openly in a New York Post interview that maybe Edward Snowden should be pardoned. In follow-up he said at a press briefing last Saturday “There are many, many people – it seems to be a split decision that many people think that he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.” And further that: “I’m going to take a very good look at it.” The president raised eyebrows and anxiety across the D.C. beltway with his unprecedented remarks.

“There are a lot of people that think that he is not being treated fairly. I mean, I hear that,” he had initially told NY Post, before adding: “Many people are on his side, I will say that. I don’t know him, never met him. But many people are on his side.” This immediately raised hopes among those that hail the NSA leaker as a whistleblower who exposed deeply unconstitutional surveillance of the domestic populace that he might one day soon see freedom. But now Attorney General William Barr is throwing cold water on such a bold prospect, saying to the Associated Press on Friday that he’d be “vehemently opposed” to any initiative to pardon Snowden, who remains on the run from US authorities – but given asylum in Russia.

If he were to return to the United States he would face severe charges related to the Espionage Act and spilling of state secrets, which would certainly bring life imprisonment. “He was a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people,” Barr said in the new comments. Interestingly, Trump’s own view as expressed years ago was that Snowden was a “traitor”. Barr’s latest comments frame Snowden’s actions as motivated by money and fame, and not of out of a sense of patriotism or concern for upholding the Constitution: “He was peddling it around like a commercial merchant. We can’t tolerate that,” Barr added firmly. Recall that last year the DOJ under Barr fought to ensure that Snowden wouldn’t see any money generated from US sales of his tell-all book Permanent Record.

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Japan has been quiet, it’s true.

What A Nation Cut Off From The Rest Of The World Looks Like (Saxo)

Earlier this morning, there has been a couple of Japanese data releases. Japanese consumer price inflation was unexciting with a rate at 0% YoY. While we see some relative price changes in many countries, the basic story for the moment is that inflation will remain low in most countries. In addition, Japan National Tourism Organization has published its latest data regarding the flow of foreign visitors in July. Basically, it shows what a nation cut off from the rest of the world looks like. The flow of foreign visitors in Japan published by Japan National Tourism Organization is out this morning. The country was supposed to welcome an unprecedented number of Olympic fans from all around the world just about now, but the pandemic has turned everything upside down.

Arrivals of foreign visitors plunge 99% YoY in July, at 3,800 individuals (slightly up compared to the previous month, when it stood at 2,600 individuals). For the sake of comparison, at the beginning of the year, the country recorded more than 2.6 million foreign visitors in a month’s time. Whilst the country expected to draw around 40 million visitors this year, the final number for 2020 might fall to 7-8 million at best, which would represent a drop of 80% compared to the target. Over the past years, the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP has significantly increased, to reach 7% in 2019, on the back of government’s incentives to promote foreign tourism via marketing push overseas and eased visa requirements.


The COVID-19 constitutes a serious setback for the government’s hopes for tourism and it is unlikely that the recent campaign to spur domestic tourism launched on July 22 will offset losses generated by the drop in the flow of foreign visitors. Considering the number of new COVID-19 cases has sharply increased since mid-July and that many countries at global level are facing the acute risk of second wave, the country is not expected to reopen to foreigners anytime soon and will probably postpone initial plans to let foreign students and businessmen return.

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Well, speak out then. A lot louder than this.

Alan Rusbridger: Assange Case Is Worrying For All Journalists (PG)

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has said the ongoing US extradition case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “disturbing” and “has worrying implications for all journalists”. And he has said it is “surprising” that more don’t share his concerns. While Assange has garnered support from a range of campaigning groups for his plight, the response from journalists and the news industry in the UK has been relatively muted. Rusbridger was editor of the Guardian for 20 years, leaving in 2015. Under his editorship the paper worked with Wikileaks on the 2010 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and, a few years later, the Snowden Files. [..] Any charges against Assange relating to journalistic activity, such as the publishing of material in the public interest, “should be dropped”, Rusbridger told Press Gazette.

[..] Rusbridger said that while Assange had done things he can’t defend, and which “stray beyond the conventional definition of journalism”, the Australian is not “all good or all bad”. “When you stand back and say, well, whatever we think of Assange, what he is being targeted for is the same or similar as many journalists have done, then it’s surprising to me that more people can’t see that this case has worrying implications for all journalists” Rusbridger said the precedent set by the UK of allowing someone to be extradited for prosecution under another country’s official secrets laws could ultimately be used by regimes to target British journalists who report on sensitive information about foreign powers. “It’s quite a disturbing thing that we should send somebody to another country for supposedly breaking their laws on secrecy. If journalists are not concerned by that, then I think they should be,” he said.

“The danger here is that if everyone sort of shrugs and leaves Assange to his fate and this sets some kind of judicial precedent, then the next time… a journalist on the Sunday Times writes about a secret Israeli weapons system, as has happened in the past, the Israelis say ‘well actually that breaches our Official Secrets Act, under the Assange precedent we now ask for this person to be returned to our country so we can prosecute them’. “You could see how what seems like a sort of tangential case involving somebody that I know lots of journalists don’t really regard as a proper journalist suddenly becomes something that has set a very alarming precedent.”

On the question of whether Assange is a journalist, Rusbridger said he was “one of these complicated figures that we’ve never had to deal with before the 21st Century” and had “many identities”. He said Assange clearly did “some things that are journalistic”, pointing in particular to the Collateral Murder video that showed a US air attack in Iraq that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters media workers. “Any newspaper would have been thrilled to run that story,” said Rusbridger. “It was a really, truly shocking story in the public interest. “So that was clearly journalism, but [Assange is] also an activist, he’s a publisher, he’s a kind of impresario, he is a whistleblower, he’s a kind of information anarchist, and so that that makes him very difficult to categorise or to work out what our attitude to him is.

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jul 142020
 


DPC The Wizard Tree, Cathedral Woods, North Conway, White Mountains, New Hampshire 1900

 

Pandemic May Get ‘Worse And Worse And Worse’ – WHO (RT)
US Kids At Higher Risk From Coronavirus Than Kids In Other Countries (CNBC)
Hong Kong To Impose Most Severe Social Distancing Restrictions (R.)
Italian Doctors: Effects of COVID-19 Worse Than First Thought (Sky)
Japan Has Long Accepted COVID’s Airborne Spread (CBS)
California’s New Lockdown Dims Outlook For US Growth In Pandemic (R.)
Federal Reserve’s $3 Trillion Virus Rescue Inflates Market Bubbles (R.)
Goya “Boycott” Becomes “Buycott” (ZH)
FBI Believed Michael Flynn Was ‘Forthcoming’ And ‘Telling Truth’ (Solomon)
Trump Doesn’t Rule Out Pardoning Michael Flynn (CNBC)
Roger Stone Judge Demands To See Trump Clemency Order (ZH)
Weissmann To Publish Insider Account Of Trump-Russia Investigation (G.)
Top Mueller Aide Weissmann Calls For Roger Stone To Face Grand Jury (Turley)

 

 

Well, I did warn about those second lockdowns, and said they would be much harder than the first ones. Never let a lockdown go to waste, they’re against human -social- nature, no matter how needed they may be. It’s also stunning to see how unprepared everybody is for entering one. There’s no organization anywhere. There should be playbooks for these things, it’s not improv theater. You need to be able to identify the weakest people in society, and look after them.

And in the present day US, where everyone is hellbent on not listening to one another anymore, this can only lead to big trouble. Increasingly, the virus is becoming a political attribute, even if that is about the worst idea imaginable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But who still listens to the WHO?

Pandemic May Get ‘Worse And Worse And Worse’ – WHO (RT)

The Covid-19 pandemic is set to get “worse and worse” if countries do not stick to strict healthcare guidelines, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. The disease has already killed more than half-a-million globally. Speaking on Monday during a press briefing from the agency’s headquarters in Geneva via videolink, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave an alarming prognosis on the pandemic’s course. “Let me be blunt. Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” Tedros said. “If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go: it is going to get worse and worse and worse.”


The grim prognosis comes after the WHO registered a record daily increase in active coronavirus cases worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic. On Sunday, the global health watchdog registered some 230,370 new cases of the virus. The Covid-19 death rate remains steady, claiming around 5,000 lives on a daily basis. The global coronavirus tally for confirmed infections has risen above the 13-million mark, according to Reuters’ figures for the pandemic. Over 560,000 people have succumbed to the disease. The US, Brazil and India remain the worst-hit nations, accounting for nearly a half of all cases.

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“.. young people in the U.S. are generally sicker than young people in Sweden, for example. ”

US Kids At Higher Risk From Coronavirus Than Kids In Other Countries (CNBC)

Children in the U.S. are more likely than kids in other countries to have underlying conditions that place them at an increased risk of becoming severely sick with Covid-19, complicating the U.S. debate over how and whether to reopen schools this fall, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Monday. President Donald Trump has been pressuring U.S. schools to reopen this fall, tweeting last week that schools in “Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, along with many other countries” were “open with no problems.” But Gottlieb said Monday it’s difficult to compare the U.S. to most of those countries because they were able to bring the level of daily infection down to a manageable degree before reopening schools.

The outbreak in the U.S., in contrast, continues to set daily new records as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on local officials to commit to reopening schools. The U.S. is suffering from the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the world with more than 3.3 million confirmed cases so far and at least 135,200 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. “The only country that had schools open against a backdrop of a fair degree of spread was Sweden, and that’s what everyone extrapolates from,” he said on “Squawk Box.” “We didn’t study that systematically. We don’t know how many kids were really infected.” [..] Another concern that ought to be considered when deciding whether and how to reopen U.S. schools, Gottlieb said, is that young people in the U.S. are generally sicker than young people in Sweden, for example.

Regardless of age, other underlying conditions more prevalent in American kids puts them at a greater risk of a severe Covid-19 infection. “We have more co-morbid illness among young people in this country — more asthma, more obesity, more diabetes — so there is going to be higher risk with our school age population,” Gottlieb said. Those so-called co-morbidities have resulted in more severe illnesses and even death in Covid-19 patients across all age groups, scientists have found. The CDC says 18.5% of U.S. children between the ages of 2 and 19 suffer from obesity, or about 13.7 million children. About 6 million children under the age of 18 have asthma, according to the CDC, and the agency notes that Black children suffer from asthma at more than double the rate of White children.

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A lot of places see fresh outbreaks. People are eager to call them a second wave, but given how strongly that term is linked to the 1918 flu, I’d be careful with that.

Hong Kong To Impose Most Severe Social Distancing Restrictions (R.)

Hong Kong will impose strict new social distancing measures from midnight Tuesday, the most stringent in the Asian financial hub since the coronavirus broke out, as authorities warn the risk of a large-scale outbreak is extremely high. The measures dictate that face masks will be mandatory for people using public transport and restaurants will no longer provide dine in services and only offer takeaway after 6 pm. Both are new rules that were not implemented during the city’s first and second coronavirus waves earlier this year. If a person does not wear a mask on public transport, they face a fine of HK$5,000 ($645). Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday the government would limit group gatherings to four people from 50 – a measure last seen during a second wave in March.


Twelve types of establishments including gyms and places of amusement must shut for a week. “The recent emergence of local cases of unknown infection source indicates the existence of sustained silent transmission in the community,” the government said in a statement late on Monday. The Chinese-ruled city recorded 52 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, including 41 that were locally transmitted, health authorities said. Since late January, Hong Kong has reported 1,522 cases and local media reported an eighth death on Monday. The government said it is very concerned about the high number of imported cases and planned to impose further measures on travellers from high-risk places, including securing mandatory negative test results before arrival.

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“Psychosis, insomnia, kidney disease, spinal infections, strokes, chronic tiredness and mobility issues..”

Italian Doctors: Effects of COVID-19 Worse Than First Thought (Sky)

The long-term effects of COVID-19, even on people who suffered a mild infection, could be far worse than was originally anticipated, according to researchers and doctors in northern Italy. Psychosis, insomnia, kidney disease, spinal infections, strokes, chronic tiredness and mobility issues are being identified in former coronavirus patients in Lombardy, the worst-affected region in the country. The doctors warn that some victims may never recover from the illness and that all age groups are vulnerable. The virus is a systemic infection that affects all the organs of the body, not, as was previously thought, just a respiratory disease, they say. Some people may find that their ability to properly work, to concentrate, and even to take part in physical activities will be severely impaired.

The physicians warn that people who do not consider themselves in a vulnerable group and aren’t concerned at contracting the disease could be putting themselves in danger of life-changing illnesses if they ignore the rules to keep safe. They stress that the need for social distancing, hand washing, and masks is as important now as it ever was. The warnings come amid growing concerns in northern Italy that a second wave of the virus could be imminent. Doctors in two of the main hospitals in the region have reported a handful of new cases of severely ill people with respiratory problems. Dr Roberto Cosentini, head of emergencies at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, oversaw the response to the virus that swept through this alpine province claiming the lives of at least 6,000 people.

He gave Sky News unprecedented access to the hospital’s emergency rooms in March when the first shocking effects of the virus were broadcast around the world, changing perceptions of the scale of the problem. Now he is leading efforts to again send a warning across the globe that COVID-19 is a lethal killer that affects the whole body, and is not going away. “At first, initially, we thought it was a bad flu, then we thought it was a bad flu with a very bad pneumonia, it was the phase when you came here, but subsequently we discovered that it is a systemic illness with vessel damage in the whole body with renal involvement, cerebral involvement,” he told me in the now silent COVID-19 emergency room that was overwhelmed a few months ago.

“So we are seeing other acute manifestations of renal failure that require dialysis; or stroke, and then acute myocardial infarction, so a lot of complications or other manifestations of the virus. “And also now we see a significant proportion of the population with chronic damage from the virus.”

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Which the WHO still halfway denies.

Japan Has Long Accepted COVID’s Airborne Spread (CBS)

Under pressure from the scientific community, the World Health Organization acknowledged last week the airborne transmission of “micro-droplets” as a possible third cause of COVID-19 infections. To many researchers in Japan, the admission felt anti-climactic. This densely populated country has operated for months on the assumption that tiny, “aerosolized” particles in crowded settings are turbo-charging the spread of the new coronavirus. Very few diseases — tuberculosis, chicken pox and measles — have been deemed transmissible through aerosols. Most are spread only through direct contact with infected persons or their bodily fluids, or contaminated surfaces. Still the WHO has refused to confirm aerosols as a major source of new coronavirus infections, saying more evidence is needed.

But scientists are keeping the pressure on. “If the WHO recognizes what we did in Japan, then maybe in other parts of the world, they will change (their antiviral procedures),” said Shin-Ichi Tanabe, a professor in the architecture department of Japan’s prestigious Waseda University. He was one of the 239 international scientists who co-wrote an open letter to the WHO urging the United Nations agency to revise its guidelines on how to stop the virus spreading. Large droplets expelled through the nose and mouth tend to fall to the ground quickly, explained Makoto Tsubokura, who runs the Computational Fluid Dynamics lab at Kobe University. For these larger respiratory particles, social distancing and face masks are considered adequate safeguards.

But in rooms with dry, stale air, Tsubokura said his research showed that people coughing, sneezing, and even talking and singing, emit tiny particles that defy gravity — able to hang in the air for many hours or even days, and travel the length of a room. The key defense against aerosols, Tsubokura said, is diluting the amount of virus in the air by opening windows and doors and ensuring HVAC systems circulate fresh air. In open-plan offices, he said partitions must be high enough to prevent direct contact with large droplets, but low enough to avoid creating a cloud of virus-heavy air (55 inches, or head height.) Small desk fans, he said, can also help diffuse airborne viral density. To the Japanese, the latest WHO admission did at least vindicate a strategy that the country adopted in February, when residents were told to avoid “the three Cs” — cramped spaces, crowded areas and close conversation.

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Maybe you shouldn’t target growth in a pandemic?!

California’s New Lockdown Dims Outlook For US Growth In Pandemic (R.)

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to reimpose restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and even ordinary office work to tamp down a surge of coronavirus infections is dimming economic growth prospects for the nation as a whole. Darkening the outlook further was the decision by California’s two largest school districts – Los Angeles and San Diego – to conduct only online instruction when classes resume next month, a move that will make it challenging for parents of more than 825,000 students to return to work. The Golden State, with 40 million people, employs more workers than any other state in the nation, and its production of goods and services is about equal to the combined output of Florida and Texas, two others states that have also seen resurgences of the virus.

After the Great Recession, California was the nation’s inarguable job growth engine, creating about one in every seven jobs, more than any other state. By comparison, over the course of the 12-year post-financial crisis expansion Texas created one of every eight U.S. jobs, and Florida, about one of every 11. In March, after becoming the first U.S. state to impose a stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic, California also became the nation’s job-loss leader. Some 2.6 million jobs disappeared in March and April, about equal to the combined job losses in Texas and Florida. Many states began to reopen in May. California allowed businesses to resume activity at a slower pace than many states did.

That shows in the most recent state-by-state jobs data: during the course May, California added just 141,600 jobs, versus 182,000 in Florida and 237,000 in Texas. Since then, the virus has resurged in much of the country, with the biggest increases in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, forcing governors in all of those states to reimpose some restrictions. But none has gone as far as Newsom did on Monday; and none of those states has near the footprint of California when it comes to economic heft on a national scale. Before the coronavirus crisis, the state accounted for about 14% of the whole U.S. economy.

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Article gives a few examples, I bring my own. There is no better example of a Fed manufactured bubble than Tesla.

Federal Reserve’s $3 Trillion Virus Rescue Inflates Market Bubbles (R.)

The Federal Reserve’s $3 trillion bid to stave off an economic crisis in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is fuelling excesses across U.S. capital markets. The U.S. central bank has pledged unlimited financial asset purchases to sustain market liquidity, increasing its balance sheet from $4.2 trillion in February to $7 trillion today. While the vast majority of these purchases have been limited to U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, the Fed’s pledge to bolster the corporate bond market has been enough to spur a frenzy among investors for bonds and stocks. “COVID-19 is now inversely related to the markets. The worse that COVID-19 gets, the better the markets do because the Fed will bring in stimulus. That is what has been driving markets,” said Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance.

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Brilliant idea. And no, I don’t think a boycott is in place just for talking to the president.

Goya “Boycott” Becomes “Buycott” (ZH)

In what is turning into a spectacular backfire, Goya products are being cleaned out of grocery store shelves in what is being dubbed the “Chick-Fil-A” effect by The Daily Wire. Namely, leftists have called for a boycott over the brand after its CEO publicly praised President Donald Trump. Instead, conservatives took matters into their own hands and are reportedly buying more Goya products than they normally would to show support for the company, its CEO and the President. It’s being called a “Buy-Cott”. It began when radio host Mike Opelka began encouraging people on Twitter to buy $10 worth of Goya products to turn around and donate to their local food bank.


He Tweeted: “My brother came up with a terrific idea and I am encouraging all to join me in purchasing $10 worth of Goya Foods products and donating them to your local food bank. Let’s push a BUY-cott, not a boycott. Let’s show the #Goyaway people what compassion can do.” And this weekend a GoFundMe effort was launched to feed the hungry using only Goya products. It has raised over $43,000 so far. Casey Harper, who started the GoFundMe, said: “I’m not surprised we have raised so much because people are tired of having to walk on eggshells in political discourse. Also, Americans are fundamentally generous people, so a chance to feed the hungry and stand up to cancel culture was an easy win.” Recall, three days ago, we reported that the Goya CEO “refused to apologize” for his comments praising President Donald Trump. As a result, many liberals announced they were boycotting his company. By last Thursday evening, “Goya,” #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway were trending topics on Twitter.

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“..the FBI planned on Jan. 4, 2017 to close down its investigation of Flynn but then reversed course.”

FBI Believed Michael Flynn Was ‘Forthcoming’ And ‘Telling Truth’ (Solomon)

Months before Michael Flynn was charged with the lying to agents, the FBI told the Justice Department the Trump national security adviser was “very open and forthcoming” in his interview and believed he was telling the truth about his contacts with Russia, according to long withheld government notes that sharply contrast with the criminal case Robert Mueller eventually filed. FBI agents told senior DOJ officials at a Jan. 25, 2017 meeting that Flynn was “telling truth as he believed it” and that he “believe[d] that what he said was true,” according to handwritten notes taken by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tashina Gauhar that were belatedly turned over to Flynn’s defense this month.

The agents also believed Flynn was “being forthright” during his interview and simply didn’t remember some facts from his calls with the Russian ambassador during the post-2016 election transition, Gauhar wrote in the notes. A separate DOJ memo described Flynn as “very open and forthcoming” during the interview. Copies of the notes from Gauhar, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led the Russia collusion case, and former DOJ and FBI official Dana Boente were made public in a court filing over the weekend, adding to a large body of belatedly released evidence that suggested the FBI did not believe it had grounds to charge Flynn with a crime as news media were reporting at the time. In fact, Boente stated in handwritten notes dated in March 2017 that the FBI had concluded Flynn wasn’t an agent of Russia. “Do not view as source of collusion,” Boente wrote.

Likewise, the notes show DOJ did not believe it could prosecute Flynn under the Logan Act, lone of the laws that was leaked as a possible Flynn liability in the media. “No reasonable pros to Logan Act,” one of the entry in the notes declared. The notes also confirm previously released evidence showing the FBI planned on Jan. 4, 2017 to close down its investigation of Flynn but then reversed course. Remarkably, the FBI claimed to DOJ the reason it kept the Flynn probe open and interview him was because a news media leak of a classified transcript of his call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The “media leaks” about the calls being intercepted brought the “investigation in the open” and “changed the dynamic,” the notes quote FBI officials as saying.

Read more …

He won’t have to. Flynn got Sidney Powell.

Trump Doesn’t Rule Out Pardoning Michael Flynn (CNBC)

President Donald Trump on Monday did not rule out granting a pardon to his first national security advisor Michael Flynn, just days after commuting the 40-month prison term of his longtime ally Roger Stone. But Trump said “I don’t have a decision to make” about a potential pardon for Flynn “until I find out what’s going to happen” with Flynn’s efforts to get a dismissal of his conviction for lying to FBI agents. “I think he’s doing very well with respect to his case,” Trump told reporters. “I hope that he’s going to be able to win it.” The Justice Department has asked that Flynn’s conviction be tossed out, but Judge Emmet Sullivan so far has not ruled on that request. A federal appeals court panel ordered Sullivan to dismiss the case, which relates to Flynn’s discussions with a Russian diplomat in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration.


But Sullivan last week asked the appeals court’s full line-up of judges to reconsider that decision. Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell said in an email, “As I have said from the inception of my representation, the government has long withheld evidence of Mr. Flynn’s innocence.” “The FBI and [special counsel’s office] made up this prosecution and coerced his plea by multiple means. The result for which we have steadfastly and relentlessly worked is his complete exoneration by the Department of Justice and the judicial system,” Powell said. “We believe it is very important for the Rule of Law and the public’s trust in the system for his case to be dismissed according to the Government’s motion and because of all the newly disclosed evidence of government misconduct and his innocence.”

Read more …

Judges questioning their superiors. It’s quite the fashion.

Roger Stone Judge Demands To See Trump Clemency Order (ZH)

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson demanded more information concerning President Trump’s decision to commute the prison sentence of Roger Stone – a longtime ally who avoided a 40-months in prison sentence for making false statements to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team during the Russia investigation. According to AP, Berman Jackson ordered the parties to provide her a copy of Trump’s executive order commuting Stone’s sentence, as well as clarity for the scope of the clemency – including whether Stone’s two-year supervised release is covered by the decision. To answer Berman Jackson’s question, Trump commuted “the entirety of the two-year term of supervised release with all its conditions.”

“The president told reporters on Monday that he was getting “rave reviews” for his action on Stone and restated his position that the Russia investigation “should have never taken place.” Democrats lambasted Trump’s decision as having undermined the rule of law, and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican to vote to convict the president during his impeachment trial, called the clemency decision “unprecedented, historic corruption.” Mueller himself defended the Stone prosecution in a Washington Post opinion piece in which he said Stone “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.” Although presidents have broad authority to commute prison sentences and issue pardons, the brief order from Jackson — who presided over Stone’s trial last year — made clear that the judge still is seeking information and clarity about the clemency, including the actual executive order from the White House. -AP (via WTOP)

The order was entered into the docket several hours later.

Read more …

Oh, and Mery Trump is now free to speak.

Weissmann To Publish Insider Account Of Trump-Russia Investigation (G.)

Andrew Weissmann, an attorney who played a leading role under Robert Mueller in the investigation of Russian election interference, will release a book about the special counsel’s near two-year examination of links between Donald Trump and Moscow. Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation will be published by Random House on 29 September. The publisher promised “a meticulous account of the Mueller team’s probe and its ongoing battles with the Trump administration”. It will be the latest in a lucrative stream of books about Trump, his presidency and the Russia investigation. In court in New York on Monday, the president’s niece, Mary Trump, will find out if a temporary restraining order will be lifted so she can discuss her book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man, which will be published by Simon & Schuster on Tuesday.

In a statement, Weissmann said: “I felt it was necessary to record this episode in our history, as seen and experienced by an insider. “This is the story of our investigation into how our democracy was attacked by Russia and how those who condoned and ignored that assault undermined our ability to uncover the truth. My obligation as a prosecutor was to follow the facts where they led, using all available tools and undeterred by the onslaught of the president’s unique powers to undermine our work.” Weissmann was active on Twitter over the weekend, after Trump announced the commutation of a prison sentence awaiting Roger Stone, an aide and ally, arising from Mueller’s work.

Stone, 67 and suspected of being the link between Russian intelligence, WikiLeaks and the president himself, was convicted on counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation. He had been due to report to prison on Tuesday, to serve a 40-month sentence. [..] Weissmann agreed with the Republican senator Mitt Romney’s description of an instance of “unprecedented, historic corruption” and advocated that Stone be brought in front of a grand jury. There, Weissmann said, Stone would have “three choices: lie and risk prosecution, refuse to testify and be held in civil and criminal contempt, or tell the truth. Let’s do what we can to get at the truth.”

[..] Weissmann said: “I am deeply proud of the work we did, and of the unprecedented number of people we indicted and convicted – and in record speed. “But the hard truth is that we made mistakes. We could have done more. Where Law Ends documents the choices we made, good and bad, for all to see and judge and learn from.”

Read more …

Talking about Weissmann, here’s a video from Jan 2019 of Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell talking about Weissman’s role (he was appointed to it by then FBI director Robert Mueller) in the demise of Arthur Andersen.

 

 

You’d think the Special Counsel never fell flat on his face.

Top Mueller Aide Weissmann Calls For Roger Stone To Face Grand Jury (Turley)

One of the most controversial figures selected by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his investigative team was Andrew Weissmann. While some criticized Weissmann for perceived bias, many of us focused on his record of prosecutorial excess. Now a law professor at New York University, Weissmann appears eager to fulfill both criticisms. After the commutation of Roger Stone, Weissmann called for Stone to be pulled in front of a grand jury. It did not matter that there was no crime under investigation or likely criminal charge based on the use of a presidential power that is virtually absolute. Weissmann seemed to call for the use of the grand jury for a fishing expedition — precisely the type of alleged excessive use of prosecutorial power that he faced at the Justice Department. Weissmann is reportedly writing a book on the investigation with the reported titled “Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation.”

Weissmann wrote “Time to put Roger Stone in the grand jury to find out what he knows about Trump but would not tell. Commutation can’t stop that.” That is certainly true. A commutation does not bar someone from being called into a grand jury. However, ethical prosecutors generally require more than an interest in finding out stuff. Grand juries usually come after an investigation finds probable cause for a crime. There is supposed to be more than a hope and prayer that a grand jury may find a crime. Indeed, this is precisely the type of untethered pursuit that led some of us to criticize the Flynn investigation. In this case, Mueller did not find evidence showing that President Trump or his campaign conspired with the Russian government to obtain hacked emails from the Clinton campaign or Democratic National Committee.

There was no allegation of a crime by Trump linked to the Stone false statements or threats. Stone was convicted on seven counts including one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. The government proved that Stone had lied to Congress to hide his efforts to contact WikiLeaks. However, he was not accused of lying about knowledge or actions by President Donald Trump. [..] The grand jury is not a device for prosecutorial whim or curiosity. It is a powerful tool that demands a modicum of restraint. Conversely, Weissmann seems to follow Oscar Wilde’s famous observation as a virtual prosecutorial mandate: “I can resist everything except temptation.”

Read more …

 

 

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Feb 202020
 


NPC Newsstand with Out-of-Town Papers, Washington DC 1925

 

2 Diamond Princess Passengers Die, Countries Rush To Evacuate Citizens (RT)
Two Coronavirus Patients From Diamond Princess Cruise Ship In Japan Die (SCMP)
New Coronavirus Spreads More Like Flu Than SARS (R.)
First Batch Of Diamond Princess Passengers Arrive In Hong Kong (R.)
Cruise Passengers Relieved To Be Ashore But Stranded In Cambodia (G.)
South Korea Reports 31 New Cases Of Coronavirus (SCMP)
Virus-Hit China Limps Back To Work (R.)
Trump ‘Offered Julian Assange A Pardon If He Denied Russia Link To Hack’ (G.)
Did Trump Offer Assange A Pardon? (ZH)
German Politicians And Professionals Demand Release Of Julian Assange (WSWS)
Roger Stone To Be Sentenced By Judge He Antagonized (R.)
Greece Labels Erdogan A Liar (K.)
Bolton Says His Impeachment Testimony Would Not Have Changed Outcome (NBC)
Russia Becomes A Safe Haven In An Increasingly Turbulent World (BNE)

 

 

Cases 75,757 (+ 560 from yesterday’s 75,197).

Number seems low because China used their accounting again (h/t ZH):

 

China’s National Health Commission may report – as soon as this evening – the first official drop in new cases since the pandemic started. Why does this matter? Because that is now the catalyst everyone is waiting for to pounce and declare that the epidemic is effectively over, even if of course isn’t.


But since for China it is no longer an option to not have people go to work, the Chinese Communist Party will take its chances with another major breakout in coronavirus, or rather pneumonia, which is how all the thousands of new “mystery” deaths will be tagged by the friendly Chinese coroner, who will be instructed to never use the word coronavirus again and instead attributed covid-19 fatalities to far more mundane causes such as pneumonia, and ordinary flu.

 

Deaths 2,130 (+ 120 from yesterday)

• First death among Diamond Princess passengers, first cases in Iran

 

 

I’ll go use these numbers from Worldometer as well:

 

 

 

 

“..as the number of those infected soared to over 620 people, Japanese authorities allowed some 600 passengers to leave the ship on Wednesday ..”

2 Diamond Princess Passengers Die, Countries Rush To Evacuate Citizens (RT)

An elderly couple aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan, where over 620 cases of coronavirus were confirmed, has succumbed to the illness. The fatalities come as Tokyo allows hundreds of passengers to return home. Both passengers were in their 80s, according to public broadcaster NHK, and are the first on board the ship to die of the virus, which has spread to more than 75,000 people and killed over 2,100 worldwide since last December. So far, the majority of fatalities have involved elderly patients with preexisting conditions. The ship was initially quarantined on February 3 with around 3,700 people aboard, and has since turned into the largest disease hotspot outside China.

After more than two weeks in isolation, as the number of those infected soared to over 620 people, Japanese authorities allowed some 600 passengers to leave the ship on Wednesday and board flights back home, with several hundred more expected to disembark the following day. So far, the US has evacuated some 328 American citizens from the vessel on two chartered flights, 14 of whom were confirmed to carry the virus just as they were heading to the airport. They were isolated from the others on board the plane and remain in quarantine in the US.

Over 150 Australian passengers were allowed to return home – where they face another two-week observation period – while several Hong Kongers also disembarked. Canada, Britain and Indonesia are slated to carry out similar evacuations for citizens aboard the ill-fated cruise liner in the coming days. More than 130 Indian crew members will be the last to depart the ship, forced to endure another two weeks on board before facing yet another 14-day quarantine at home.

Read more …

“Americans flown back will have to complete another 14 days quarantine, as will returning Hong Kong residents. Disembarked Japanese passengers, however, face no such restrictions..”

Two Coronavirus Patients From Diamond Princess Cruise Ship In Japan Die (SCMP)

Two passengers from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship moored near Tokyo have died, public broadcaster NHK said on Thursday, as a second group of passengers began disembarking after two-weeks quarantined on-board. More than 620 of the passengers on the Diamond Princess liner have been infected on the ship, which has been quarantined since February 3, initially with about 3,700 people on board. NHK, citing a government source, said the passengers were a man and woman in their 80s. Both had underlying conditions and had been taken off the ship on February 11 and 12 before being treated in hospital, NHK said. The rapid spread of the disease – Japan has well over half of the known cases outside China – has sparked criticism of authorities just months before Tokyo is due to host the Summer Olympics.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato on Thursday defended Japan’s response in parliament, telling lawmakers that officials have taken expert advice and responded to issues on a daily basis. In a move to reassure the public, the health ministry also issued a statement in both English and Japanese that said all passengers had been required to stay in their cabins since February 5 to contain the virus. [..] About 500 passengers were set to disembark on Thursday while another 100 people were to leave for chartered flights home, a health ministry official said. An initial batch of passengers who had tested negative and shown no symptoms left the vessel on Wednesday.

Those who have shared a room with people testing positive were required to remain in quarantine, as were crew. The ministry could not confirm how many people remained on board, or when disembarkation would be complete. More than 150 Australian passengers arrived home after a predawn departure from Tokyo’s Haneda airport. They face another 14-day quarantine. Some Hong Kong passengers also went home, while Canadians were due to leave on a charter flight in the early hours of Friday, Tokyo time, a Canadian government spokeswoman said. An evacuation flight was also being arranged for British nationals to leave Tokyo on Friday.

Earlier in the week, the United States evacuated more than 300 nationals on two chartered flights. A State Department official said there were still about 45 US citizens on board the cruise ship as of Thursday. Americans flown back will have to complete another 14 days quarantine, as will returning Hong Kong residents. Disembarked Japanese passengers, however, face no such restrictions, a decision that has sparked concern.

Read more …

Transmissibility.

New Coronavirus Spreads More Like Flu Than SARS (R.)

Scientists in China who studied nose and throat swabs from 18 patients infected with the new coronavirus say it behaves much more like influenza than other closely related viruses, suggesting it may spread even more easily than previously believed. In at least in one case, the virus was present even though the patient had no symptoms, confirming concerns that asymptomatic patients could also spread the disease. Although preliminary, the findings published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, offer new evidence that this novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,000 people mostly in China, is not like its closely-related coronavirus cousins.

“If confirmed, this is very important,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, a virologist and vaccine researcher with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not involved with the study. Unlike Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which causes infections deep in the lower respiratory tract that can result in pneumonia, COVID-19 appears to inhabit both the upper and lower respiratory tracts. That would make it not only capable of causing severe pneumonia, but of spreading easily like flu or the common cold. Researchers in Guangdong province monitored the amount of coronavirus in the 18 patients. One of them, who had moderate levels of the virus in their nose and throat, never had any disease symptoms.

Among the 17 symptomatic patients, the team found levels of the virus increased soon after symptoms first appeared, with higher amounts of virus present in the nose than in the throats, a pattern more similar to influenza than SARS. The level of virus in the asymptomatic patient was similar to what was present in patients with symptoms, such as fever. “What this says is clearly this virus can be shed out of the upper respiratory tract and that people are shedding it asymptomatically,” Poland said. [..] “This virus is clearly much more capable of spreading between humans than any other novel coronavirus we’ve ever seen. This is more akin to the spread of flu,” said Andersen, who was not involved with the study.

Read more …

Yet another new name for the virus is spreading: SARS-CoV-2.

First Batch Of Diamond Princess Passengers Arrive In Hong Kong (R.)

More than 100 Hong Kong residents who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise in Japan for over two weeks landed on Thursday morning in the Asian financial hub, where they will face a further 14 days of quarantine. Arriving on a chartered Cathay Pacific aircraft, the 106 passengers were part of a first batch of at least two government arranged flights to bring back hundreds of remaining citizens. Authorities said 55 of the 364 Hong Kong residents on the ship were infected with the coronavirus. They will remain in Japan along with 33 other citizens who have been in close contact with them.


The British-flagged Diamond Princess arrived in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on Feb 3. with about 3,700 people onboard after the virus was diagnosed in a man who disembarked last month in Hong Kong. Over 600 passengers have tested positive for the virus, SARS-CoV-2, so far. Passengers began disembarking on Wednesday from the ship, which is operated by Carnival Corp. The process will be finished by Friday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said. Passengers arriving in Hong Kong are being taken straight into quarantine at a new public housing estate in the city’s New Territories region.

Read more …

The Westerdam had 2,257 people, 1,455 passengers and 802 crew aboard. There are now 255 passengers and 747 crew. 1,200 potentially infected people have spread all over the globe. Countries are now “scrambling” to find them.

Cruise Passengers Relieved To Be Ashore But Stranded In Cambodia (G.)

The MS Westerdam arrived in Cambodia on 13 February, after repeatedly being denied entry to other ports. But the thrill of the moment, has now evaporated for those still facing a logistical nightmare. Travel options – already limited by the number of airlines serving Cambodia – have been narrowed by a growing list of countries denying entry to passengers from the ship. “We showed up in a city unexpected and there’s only so many flights a night and we have a lot of people we’re trying to funnel through that system and we’re putting a lot of stress on that system,” said Orlando Ashford, president of the Holland America Line, which operates the Westerdam. “It’s a math problem: how many people do you have? How many seats do you have?”

Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan are among those refusing to allow passengers in, making flying to Europe and the Americas difficult. Some airlines, such as Emirates, make a stop in Bangkok before proceeding to hubs such as Dubai, further limiting available flights. Still, Ashford expressed hope that remaining passengers would be on their way home “in a couple of days”. The Westerdam, with 2,257 passengers and crew aboard, began letting passengers off on Friday as they found flights home. But that was stopped once news broke that an 83-year-old American woman who had been on the ship and subsequently traveled to Malaysia was found to be carrying the virus. Some 255 passengers and 747 crew members were held on the ship while further testing was conducted.

Cambodia’s ministry of health said on Wednesday that all the tests came back negative and that all passengers were reported to be healthy and fever-free. After that, remaining passengers were allowed off the ship. Tony Martin-Vegue, whose wife, Christina Kerby, remains in Phnom Penh, began immediately preparing for her return home to California’s Bay Area once she got off the ship. Now he’s not sure when that might happen. “It’s kind of limbo right now,” he said. “I’m worried about how she’s going to get home.”

Read more …

Yesterday 20, now 31. 90 people at a temple service show symptoms.

South Korea Reports 31 New Cases Of Coronavirus (SCMP)

The mayor of a South Korean city at the centre of a new coronavirus outbreak told residents to stay indoors on Thursday as a surge in confirmed cases linked to a local church raised the prospect of wider transmission. Malls, restaurants and streets in Daegu, the country’s fourth largest city with a population of 2.5 million, were largely empty in scenes that local social media users likened to a disaster movie. “We are in an unprecedented crisis,” Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said at a briefing in the city, about 240km (miles) southwest of the capital Seoul, as he warned of likely further cases. Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 31 new cases of the virus on Thursday, following 20 a day earlier, taking the total across the country to 82.


Of that national tally, 49 patients are from Daegu or nearby and have been traced to an infected person who attended a local church, a scenario that KCDC described as a “super-spreading event”. Kwon cautioned that at least 90 more of the around 1,000 other people who attended services at the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony were also showing symptoms. [..] The cases previously reported in South Korea had mostly involved people who had travelled individually to China or come in contact with somebody who had. Daegu authorities ordered the shutdown of all kindergartens, while schools considered postponing the beginning of the spring semester scheduled for early March The Defence Ministry banned troops stationed in Daegu from leaving their barracks and receiving guests.

Read more …

Breaking the -supply- chains.

Virus-Hit China Limps Back To Work (R.)

The Chinese manufacturing engine that powers much of the world economy is struggling to restart after an extended Lunar New Year break, hindered by travel and quarantine restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus epidemic and still in place in many parts of the country. Case in point: in the southern China manufacturing hub of Dongguan, a factory that makes vaporizers and other products had just half of its workforce of 40 last week and was struggling to function without key personnel. “The quality inspectors, they’re all out,” said Renaud Anjoran, who runs the factory. “One is stuck in Hubei, the other is in an area with no transportation open.” Anjoran said other Dongguan manufacturers were also scrambling with half their normal staff levels, with some having even less than that.

The problems are exacerbating pain inflicted by loss of business from the U.S.-China trade war and present huge logistical challenges as companies, many dependent on migrant workers, grapple with a myriad of restrictions that differ by province, city and local district. Apple on Monday rescinded a quarterly sales target made just weeks ago, saying the ramp up of factories in China was slower than anticipated. Hyundai and Nissan have had to suspend some production – not just in China but also at home – for lack of parts. Some smaller firms, particularly in Southeast Asia and reliant on supplies from China, are having to make tough decisions. Taiwan’s Sica New Materials abruptly shut its factory in Thailand at the end of January, laying off about 350 workers.

“They couldn’t produce because raw materials weren’t being sent from China,” said Pairote Panthakarn from the government’s welfare and labor protection office in Kanchanaburi province, where the factory is located. Sica New Materials did not respond to a request for comment. Sinoproud Cambodia Garments, whose customers include fashion retailer Zara’s parent Inditex, told Reuters it may scale back production as stocks of fabric were getting low. “We hope we get the product in March and if we don’t get the product in March, we might just have to cut back and put the workers on half pay,” said general manager Tu Ailan. Nearly half of 109 U.S. companies responding to a poll by Shanghai’s American Chamber of Commerce said plant shutdowns have already had an impact on their supply chains, while almost all of the remainder expect an impact within the next month.

Read more …

WikiLeaks says on Twitter that there’s much more where this came from.

Julian Assange has always said Russia was not behind the leaked mails, and said they were not hacked, but leaked.. But that was not convenient. And now he’s locked up.

In early 2017, Assange negotiated with Congressmembers (?!) about providing proof Russia was not involved. James Comey shut that down.

Mollie Hemingway on Twitter: “Not only have the media not had a proper reckoning for their deceitful years-long push of the dangerous and false Russia collusion conspiracy theory, THEY ARE STILL DOING IT AS LATE AS TODAY. This propaganda is dangerous to domestic and national security and must stop.”

Trump ‘Offered Julian Assange A Pardon If He Denied Russia Link To Hack’ (G.)

Donald Trump offered Julian Assange a pardon if he would say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic party emails, a court in London has been told. The extraordinary claim was made at Westminster magistrates court before the opening next week of Assange’s legal battle to block attempts to extradite him to the US, where he faces charges for publishing hacked documents. The allegation was denied by the former Republican congressman named by the Assange legal team as a key witness. Assange’s lawyers alleged that during a visit to London in August 2017, congressman Dana Rohrabacher told the WikiLeaks founder that “on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange … said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC [Democratic National Committee] leaks.”


A few hours later, however, Rohrabacher denied the claim, saying he had made the proposal on his own initiative, and that the White House had not endorsed it. “At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange,” the former congressman wrote on his personal blog. “Likewise, I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange. I was on my own fact finding mission at personal expense to find out information I thought was important to our country. “At no time did I offer Julian Assange anything from the president because I had not spoken with the president about this issue at all. However, when speaking with Julian Assange, I told him that if he could provide me information and evidence about who actually gave him the DNC emails, I would then call on President Trump to pardon him,” Rohrabacher added. “At no time did I offer a deal made by the president, nor did I say I was representing the president.”

Read more …

Zero Hedge appears to be confused here when they say According to Assange’s lawyer, Rohrabacher, it was him that informed Gen. Kelly..”

It wasn’t Assange’s lawyer, it was Rohrabacher (they are not the same person) who “said it was him that informed Gen. Kelly that “Assange would provide information about the purloined DNC emails in exchange for a pardon..” It should read: “According to Assange’s lawyer, Rohrabacher said it was him that informed Gen. Kelly..”

So their headline “Assange’s Lawyer Flip-Flops – Admits He Offered Russia Exoneration Quid Pro Quo, White House Ignored” doesn’t seem to make sense.

Did Trump Offer Assange A Pardon? (ZH)

Update: The story appears to have changed dramatically. According to Assange’s lawyer, Rohrabacher said it was him that informed Gen. Kelly that “Assange would provide information about the purloined DNC emails in exchange for a pardon,” but never heard back from the White House. It was Assange’s lawyer (not Assange) that offered a quid prod quo to expose the truth that Russia did not hack the DNC emails (none of which has been proven) in exchange for a pardon… but The White House never responded. [..] Attorneys for Julian Assange told a London court on Wednesday that they will provide evidence that the Trump administration offered to pardon the WikiLeaks founder if he was willing to say that Russia had nothing to do with leaks of Democratic Party emails, according to Bloomberg.

During the preliminary extradition hearing, Assange’s lawyers said that former GOP congressman Dana Rohrahbacher offered the deal in 2017, one year after WikiLeaks published emails which were damaging to then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. At the time, the FBI’s ‘Russiagate’ investigation was in full swing as the agency tried in vein to prove that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 US election.

“At a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Assange’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald asked the court to allow more witness statements during the extradition hearing that will start next week. The new information includes a witness statement by Jen Robinson, another of Assange’s lawyers, that deals with the alleged offer made by then U.S. Representative. Dana Rohrabacher, he told the court. The witness statement will address “Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange, and saying on instructions of the president, offering pardon or some other way out if Mr. Assange played ball and said the Russians had nothing to do with” the leaks, Fitzgerald said.” -Bloomberg

Read more …

Where were they the past few years?

German Politicians And Professionals Demand Release Of Julian Assange (WSWS)

German-speaking politicians, cultural workers and journalists have published a joint appeal, “Release Julian Assange from prison,” which supports the demand “for the immediate release of Julian Assange, on medical grounds as well on the basis of the rule of law.” The 130 initial signatories have now been joined by 22,000 other supporters. The appeal expresses “great concern for the life of the journalist and founder of Wikileaks” and quotes the findings of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, saying, Assange showed “all the symptoms typical of victims of prolonged psychological torture.” The appeal also refers to the open letter from more than 60 medical doctors, who demand “Assange be transferred to a university hospital, as his state of health is now considered life-threatening.”


“It is obvious that Julian Assange cannot recuperate under the current conditions of detention, nor can he prepare for his extradition proceedings, which are scheduled to begin on February 24, 2020,” the appeal says. “Both constitute serious violations of fundamental principles of human rights and the rule of law, making a fair trial impossible and exposing Julian Assange to considerable suffering and health risks.” The appeal goes on to say, “We remind the German media that Assange is one of their own and that the defence of press freedom is a fundamental tenet of democracy. Notwithstanding the allegations levelled against Assange, we urge the United Kingdom, on the human rights and medical grounds outlined above, to release Julian Assange from custody immediately so that he can recover under expert medical supervision and exercise his fundamental rights without hindrance. We also call on the German Government to make representations to the British Government to this effect.”

Read more …

He’ll either get a new court case or be pardoned.

Roger Stone To Be Sentenced By Judge He Antagonized (R.)

Since his January 2019 arrest, President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone has repeatedly tested the patience of the federal judge who presided over his trial. On Thursday, that judge will tell the self-described “dirty trickster” how long he will serve in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson is scheduled to sentence Stone, a veteran Republican operative whose friendship with Trump dates back decades, after a 12-member jury in November found him guilty on all seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. The judge on Tuesday rejected Stone’s bid to delay the sentencing.

The high-profile case has taken on additional importance since Trump last week blasted the federal prosecutors who won Stone’s conviction as “corrupt” after they recommended to the judge a prison sentence of seven to nine years. Attorney General William Barr, appointed last year by Trump as the top U.S. law enforcement official, swiftly intervened and the Justice Department withdrew the recommendation as “excessive,” with all four prosecutors then quitting the case. The Republican president thanked Barr for “taking charge” of the Stone matter, though Barr rebuked Trump for tweeting about the case. Congressional Democrats have accused Trump and Barr of politicizing the U.S. criminal justice system and threatening the rule of law.

Stone has repeatedly pushed the boundaries set by Jackson since his arrest in a dramatic pre-dawn FBI raid on his Florida home. Stone violated the judge’s orders not to talk about the case or post on social media, and she accused him of “middle school” behavior. At one point, Stone posted an image of Jackson on Instagram with what looked like the crosshairs of a gun over her head. “His antics are definitely an aggravating factor, and he can expect a longer sentence than he otherwise would have received,” said Mark Allenbaugh, a co-founder of Sentencing Stats, LLC who previously worked for the U.S. Sentencing Commission that sets federal sentencing guidelines.

[..] Stone, 67, was convicted of lying under oath to U.S. lawmakers about his outreach to WikiLeaks – the website that disclosed many hacked Democratic emails ahead of the 2016 election that proved embarrassing to Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton – to protect Trump from looking bad. Mueller’s investigation concluded the emails were hacked by Russia. Stone sought to cast doubt on Moscow’s role.

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Erdogan has a wild plan to destroy the Treaty of Lausanne, and now out of nowhere tells his party that Greece has agreed with that plan. It didn’t and never will.

Greece Labels Erdogan A Liar (K.)

Greece vehemently dismissed the claim by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that it has accepted the status quo Turkey wants in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying that not only it has not done so, but it has, along with the international community, condemned Turkey’s illegal moves in the region. “As we have repeatedly stressed, illegal actions produce no legal effect,” said Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Gennimatas, who denounced “moves that continue to undermine regional peace and security, creating, among other things, pretexts for the violation of the arms embargo in Libya and for the attempt to usurp the sovereign rights of countries in the region.” ”Unfortunately, in this, too, Turkey continues to be a minority of one,” he said.


Erdogan said earlier Wednesday that Ankara’s resolute stance has led “the rest of the countries in the region, but mainly Greece,” to accept the status quo that Turkey wants in the Eastern Mediterranean. He also stressed that Europeans have no jurisdiction in the region. Moreover, he announced that Turkey has purchased its third offshore drilling ship which will arrive in Turkey next month and begin drilling in 2020, without specifying the location. Speaking to the ruling AKP’s parliamentary group, he stressed that the new drilling rig could reach a depth of 11,400 meters. Meanwhile, the third day on Wednesday of contacts in Athens between Greek and Turkish delegations on confidence building measures coincided with 39 airspace violations over the Aegean Sea by Turkish fighter jets.

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“Per the audio obtained, Bolton says the House committed “malpractice” and “made a mess” of the impeachment inquiry, calling it “grossly partisan.”

Bolton Says His Impeachment Testimony Would Not Have Changed Outcome (NBC)

Former national security adviser John Bolton said Wednesday he was surprised that Senate Republicans rejected his offer to testify in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. But he said that even if he had testified, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the trial because of how House Democrats handled their investigation. “I think the House committed impeachment malpractice,” Bolton said at an event at Vanderbilt University with Susan Rice, who was national security adviser during the administration of former President Barack Obama. “The process drove Republicans who might have voted for impeachment away” because “it was so partisan,” he said. But, he added, “my testimony would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome.”

All but one Senate Republican voted to acquit Trump of abusing the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political opponent. Rice challenged Bolton repeatedly over his decision not to testify in the House or publicly discuss what he knows about the president’s Ukraine pressure campaign, particularly as officials who worked for him on the National Security Council have done so and have since endured Trump’s wrath. [..] Bolton noted that he offered to testify in the Senate trial and that the House didn’t subpoena him after Democrats learned that he would seek a court ruling because the White House had told him not to testify. He wouldn’t speculate about testifying before the House now if he is subpoenaed, because, he said, his lawyer has advised him not to take a position during a national security review by the White House of his book on his time as national security adviser.

Bolton also tried to deflect growing criticism that he isn’t speaking out because he’s simply out to sell his book about his 17 months in the Trump White House. He said he couldn’t speak out now because his book — “The Room Where it Happened”— is still undergoing a prepublication national security review and he believes Trump would have his administration sue him if he discussed its contents before that’s complete. “I’m not out here flacking for it,” he said. “I believe I wrote a book that does not contain any classified information. The staff reviewing it says it does.

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The benefits of sanctions.

Russia Becomes A Safe Haven In An Increasingly Turbulent World (BNE)

A year ago the main concern of international investors looking at Russia was uncertainty due to its geopolitical showdown with the West. A year on and global economic uncertainty is the main worry, not geopolitics. Russia is now seen by an increasing number of investors as a safe haven in an increasingly turbulent and unpredictable world. “Russia has seen a sharp change from the dominating attitudes from just a year ago: global uncertainty, not geopolitics, now seems the key risk factor. Russia is now seen as a “safe haven,” helped by reserves and sound macroeconomic policies. Low valuations are overtaking high dividend payments in importance and the new Russian government with Putin’s spending initiatives have been taken positively,” BSC Global Markets chief economist Vladimir Tikhomirov said in a note.

The majority of investors are already overweight Russian equities: 59% of dedicated funds are overweight, 33% are even weight and the remainder underweight. Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent the last few years constructing a “fiscal fortress” of record high gross international reserves (GIR) that have now surpassed the pre-crisis peak and are approaching $600bn. At the same time, the budget has been overhauled and the break-even price of oil for the budget to balance has tumbled from $115 in the boom years to around $40 now – well below the average oil prices of the last few years. Under Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, when he ran the tax office, the tax take grew by 20% despite the tax burden only rising by 2pp. And both external and public debt are now covered dollar for dollar with cash.

In short, Russia has probably the best macro fundamentals of any major country in the world. All this has not been lost on bond investors, who have piled into the market and now own about a third of all the Russian Ministry of Finance ruble-denominated OFZ treasury bills – the ministry’s main source of financing the budget. But last year the increasingly good story spilled over into the equity markets. Russia’s dollar-denominated Russia Trading System (RTS) index returned just under 50%, making it on of the top three performing equity markets in the world. This year got off to a very strong start with the market up 10% in the first two weeks, but the coronavirus epidemic in China took the wind out of its sails and the market is currently flat YTD, with the notable exception of the utilities sector, which is up a whopping 16% YTD.

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I have nothing against Warren. But politics sold in the same way as American Idol, and therefore ultimately in the same way as detergent, is very creepy.

 

 

 

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Aug 232018
 
 August 23, 2018  Posted by at 9:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Seated woman 1903

 

 

 

The Weaponization of the Dollar (Lebowitz)
Turkey’s Lira Crisis Was Written In Istanbul’s Skyline (G.)
U.S.-China Trade War Escalates As New Tariffs Kick In (R.)
Shooting War With China More Likely Than You Think (Rickards)
Wall Street Marks Longest-Ever ‘Bull Market’ (AFP)
Saudi Energy Minister Denies Aramco IPO Will Be Called Off (R.)
Australia In Crisis As Prime Minister Faces Down Political Coup Attempt (G.)
Trump Says He’s Considering Pardon For Manafort (R.)
Making Plans For A New World Order (Heiko Maas)
Italian Prosecutors Investigate Salvini’s Bar On Ship Arrivals (G.)

 

 

“..the true all-in cost of borrowing was not 5% but 54%.”

The Weaponization of the Dollar (Lebowitz)

China, Turkey, and Iran are all classified as emerging markets. While the classification is broad and includes a diverse group of countries, these countries have many things in common. One is that their currencies, for the most part, are not liquid or highly valued. Thus, they heavily rely on the world’s reserve currency, the U.S. dollar, to conduct international trade. As an example, when Pakistan buys oil from Qatar, they transact in U.S. dollars, not rupees or riyals. To facilitate trade efficiently, these countries must hold excess dollars in reserve. In almost all cases, emerging market nations rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt for their transactional needs.

Dollar-denominated debt is currently the cause of much economic pain for Turkey. To understand why, we present a simplified example. Suppose on January 1, 2018, a Turkish corporation borrowed $100 million U.S. dollars with an agreement to pay it back with interest of 5% on August 15th, 2018. The company, as is typical, converts the loaned dollars to Turkish Lira. On August 15, 2018, the company will convert the Lira back to dollars in order to pay the principal and interest due on the loan. The following graph charts the Turkish Lira versus the Dollar over the life of the loan.

On January 1, 2018, one U.S. Dollar was worth 3.79 Lira. Over the next eight months, the U.S dollar appreciated significantly versus the Lira such that one U.S. dollar was worth approximately 5.81 Lira. As such, the company will now need 5.81 Lira to purchase each dollar it needs to repay the loan. Due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar versus the Lira over the time period of the outstanding loan, the company would need 584,282,000 Lira to pay back what was originally a 378,750,000 Lira loan. In other words, the true all-in cost of borrowing was not 5% but 54%.

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“90% of the credit in Turkish real estate companies came from loans in foreign currencies.”

Turkey’s Lira Crisis Was Written In Istanbul’s Skyline (G.)

From a distance, Esenyurt, a newly built up neighbourhood on the edges of Istanbul, looks a bit like Hong Kong or Dubai, with a bustling downtown of shiny skyscrapers. Upon closer examination, however, you notice that tower after tower stands incomplete, lacking windows or furnishings; others are only half-occupied, their windows dark after nightfall. “In the residential areas, 100% of the construction has stopped,” says Mohamed Karman, a local estate agent, from his small office in the central square of Esenyurt. “Do you know why? The materials. Everything is in dollars, you pay in dollars.” The crash of the Turkish lira last week after two years of steady decline spooked global markets – but anyone looking at Istanbul’s skyline would have been far from surprised.

Everywhere you look in the city, evidence of a debt-fuelled construction boom abounds: new skyscrapers frame the horizon, huge shopping malls dot the streets and among several megaprojects is a new airport, set to be the world’s largest. Funding for this construction frenzy has been at the heart of Turkey’s economy, accounting for up to 20% of the country’s GDP growth in recent years, and employing around two million people. In a parallel to the 2008 financial crash, the boom was funded by low-interest loans and ballooning debt. Property developers funded their buildings with cheap loans in foreign currencies – and will be struck particularly hard by the lira’s collapse, as those loans grow harder to repay every day. According to government statistics, at the end of 2016 nearly 90% of the credit in Turkish real estate companies came from loans in foreign currencies.

[..] The Istanbul Sapphire – one of the tallest buildings in Europe when completed in 2011 – was financed through loans worth 164m lira in 2013, 154m of which was in US dollars. That loan would now cost around 539m lira.

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Is this the best they can do?

U.S.-China Trade War Escalates As New Tariffs Kick In (R.)

The United States and China escalated their acrimonious trade war on Thursday, implementing punitive 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s goods, even as mid-level officials from both sides resumed talks in Washington. The world’s two largest economies have now slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on a combined $100 billion of products since early July, with more in the pipeline, adding to risks to global economic growth. China’s Commerce Ministry said Washington was “remaining obstinate” by implementing the latest tariffs, which kicked-in on both sides as scheduled at 12:01 p.m. in Beijing (0401 GMT). “China resolutely opposes this, and will continue to take necessary countermeasures,” it said in a brief statement.

“At the same time, to safeguard free trade and multilateral systems, and defend its own lawful interests, China will file suit regarding these tariff measures under the WTO dispute resolution mechanism,” it said. President Donald Trump has threatened to put duties on almost all of the more than $500 billion of Chinese goods exported to the United States annually unless Beijing agrees to sweeping changes to its intellectual property practices, industrial subsidy programs and tariff structures, and buys more U.S. goods. That figure would be far more than China imports from the United States, raising concerns that Beijing could consider other forms of retaliation, such as making life more difficult for American firms in China or allowing its yuan currency to weaken further to support its exporters.

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“The U.S. will win this trade war because Xi does not want to lose his throne.”

Shooting War With China More Likely Than You Think (Rickards)

The mainstream media narrative about the U.S.-China trade war implies that Trump is on a highly damaging ego trip and China holds all the cards. The exact opposite is true. Trump has ample financial warfare weapons including tariffs, penalties, bans on direct investment, improved cybersecurity, forced divestiture and freezing of assets. Meanwhile, China has almost run out of room to impose tariffs. Further, they will invite retribution if they try to devalue their currency further. China’s vulnerabilities run deeper than that. The U.S.-China trade war comes in the aftermath of a Chinese Communist Party conference that made Xi Jinping dictator for life and enshrined his doctrines on the same level as Mao Zedong.

Once Xi got these powers, he proceeded on a disastrous policy course that has resulted in a slowdown of the Chinese economy, higher debt defaults, lost investment opportunities in the U.S. and declining hard currency reserves. The knives are now out in Beijing. Reports are circulating that Xi’s opponents are questioning his judgment and the wisdom of expanding his powers at such a critical time. Many are starting to blame Xi for the trade war almost as much as they blame Trump. Xi still has torture, firing squads and concentration camps at his disposal, but the notion of a unified, coherent leadership structure in Beijing is now seen to be a myth. Trump will keep up the pressure; he never backs off and always doubles down.

It will be up to Xi to blink and acquiesce in many U.S. demands. The U.S. will win this trade war because Xi does not want to lose his throne. Yet there will still be material damage to the global economy and lasting animosity between Xi and Trump.

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Party.

Wall Street Marks Longest-Ever ‘Bull Market’ (AFP)

Wall Street graduated to the longest-ever “bull market” Wednesday, a run that began amid extraordinary crisis-era monetary policy and which experts think could persist at least a while longer. US President Donald Trump cheered the news after the S&P 500 closed for the 3,453rd straight time without a drop of 20 percent over the more than nine-year stretch. “Longest bull run in the history of the stock market. congratulations America!” Trump said on Twitter shortly after the closing bell. The marathon run comes amid signs the US economy has accelerated this year after a long period of slow but steady growth. Experts say trade wars and higher interest rates are among potential threats to the persistence of the bull run.

Market watchers liken the landmark to other stock market records, such as when the Dow hit 25,000 points for the first time. Investing in stocks remains concentrated among the wealthiest, with many Americans still hesitant to buy stocks following the 2008 financial crisis. While financial experts are well aware of the durability of the current stock market cycle, the record is “news more to Main Street than to Wall Street,” according to Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR. The S&P 500 finished the day down less than 0.1 percent at 2,861.82. When stocks fall at least 20 percent below their previous record, they enter a “bear market.”

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But several people insist it is. it’s just that it can’t be announced right now.

Saudi Energy Minister Denies Aramco IPO Will Be Called Off (R.)

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister denied a Reuters report that state oil giant Aramco’s initial public offering will be called off, in a statement issued early on Thursday. “The government remains committed to the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, in accordance with the appropriate circumstances and appropriate time chosen by the Government,” Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement released on Saudi Press Agency. Reuters reported on Wednesday that four senior industry sources said Saudi Arabia has called off both the domestic and international stock listing of Aramco.

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Oz politics is so bad it’s not even funny.

Australia In Crisis As Prime Minister Faces Down Political Coup Attempt (G.)

Australia is on the brink of having its sixth prime minister in a decade after a chaotic, internecine coup attempted, but failed, to topple the incumbent Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday. In a media conference during which he refused to resign, Turnbull called on his challengers to prove he had lost the confidence of his own party, and made a thinly veiled swipe at influences “outside the parliament”. The reference was widely interpreted as an attack on the power of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation newspapers and TV channels, which have consistently campaigned against him. “The reality is that a minority in the party room supported by others outside the parliament have sought to bully, intimidate others into making this change of leadership that they’re seeking,” Turnbull said.

The leadership brawl stalled political business on Thursday morning when the government voted to shut down the House of Representatives until 10 September, unsure it would be able to command a majority on the floor of the House, and unwilling to face questions from the opposition after at least 13 ministers tendered their resignations. Since 2007, no Australian prime minister has served a full term in office, with four cut down by their own parties while in office, earning Canberra the title of “coup capital of the Pacific”. Turnbull survived Thursday, but appears almost certain to lose the prime ministership to a party room vote, likely as soon as Friday.

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But not today, for sure.

Trump Says He’s Considering Pardon For Manafort (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would consider pardoning his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted on Tuesday of bank and tax fraud, according to a Fox News reporter who interviewed Trump. Fox News reporter Ainsley Earhardt said Trump told her in an interview on Wednesday that “he would consider” pardoning Manafort.“I think he feels bad for Manafort. They were friends,” Earhardt said in an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity” program on Wednesday night.

Fox News has been airing excerpts of the interview with Trump, which is scheduled to be shown in its entirety on Thursday morning. The excerpts have not included a clip of Trump saying he would consider pardoning Manafort. Manafort was convicted on Tuesday of two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. In a tweet on Wednesday about the verdict, Trump called Manafort a “brave man” and said, “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family.”

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Maas is the new German foreign minister. His proposal for an alternative SWIFT system launched a debate. But really, “new world order”?

Making Plans For A New World Order (Heiko Maas)

It starts with us exposing fake news. Like this: If the current account balance of Europe and the US includes more than just trade in goods, then it is not the US that has a deficit, it’s Europe. One reason is the billions in profits that European subsidiaries of Internet giants such as Apple, Facebook and Google transfer to the US every year. So when we talk about fair rules, we must also talk about the fair taxation of profits like that. It is also important to correct fake news because it can quickly result in the wrong policies. As Europeans, we have made it clear to the Americans that we consider the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran to be a mistake. Meanwhile, the first US sanctions have come back into force.

In this situation, it is of strategic importance that we make it clear to Washington that we want to work together. But also: That we will not allow you to go over our heads, and at our expense. That is why it was right to protect European companies legally from sanctions. It is therefore essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels independent of the US, a European monetary fund and an independent SWIFT [payments] system. The devil is in thousands of details. But every day that the Iran agreement lasts, is better than the potentially explosive crisis that threatens the Middle East otherwise.

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Let the courts decide.

Italian Prosecutors Investigate Salvini’s Bar On Ship Arrivals (G.)

Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into the illegal detention of 177 migrants onboard a coastguard vessel that the minister of the interior, Matteo Salvini, refuses to allow to land. The Ubaldo Diciotti has been docked for 48 hours at the port of Catania, Sicily, but the migrants have not been allowed to disembark without having certainties from Brussels on their distribution to other countries. The investigation, conducted by the prosecutor of the city of Agrigento, was launched against “unknowns” but it is clear that if the magistrates were to go ahead with a judicial proceeding, Salvini would end up under investigation, being the only one responsible for the landing ban.

“I heard that the prosecutor’s office in Agrigento has opened an investigation,” said Salvini in a recent video on Facebook Live. “I also heard that the suspects are ‘unknown’ at the moment. But I’m not unknown. My name is Matteo Salvini, I’m the minister of the interior. Come on, try me too, I’m here.” The Ubaldo Diciotti docked on Monday night in the port of Catania but the migrants, including 29 unaccompanied minors, were refused authorisation to disembark. The ship picked up 190 people on 15 August from an overcrowded boat about 17 nautical miles from the Italian island of Lampedusa. Thirteen of them were evacuated for emergency medical treatment.

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